LECTURES ON DON QUIXOTE

Quite the least interesting, most dutiful of Nabokov's collegiate lectures on literature, these talks on Don Quixote were given at Harvard, 1951-52. Again, Nabokov applies principles of categorization to the text at hand: dimensions, numbering, topographies, maps. And he offers some (but not much) general discussion of the book's enduring genius. "What we shall witness now is the evolution of the epic form, the shedding of its metrical skin, the hoofing of its feet, a sudden fertile cross between the winged monster of the epic and the specialized prose form of entertaining narration, more or less a domesticated mammal, if I may pursue the metaphor to its lame end;" Nabokov sees Don Quixote as a logical continuation of earlier chivalric romances, "with the elements of madness and shame and mystification increased." The book, he finds, is one of those "perhaps more important in eccentric diffusion than in their intrinsic value." Clearly not one of Nabokov's favorite books, he sees it as neither humane nor humorous: a whole section of the lectures is given over to literally scoring (as in tennis) the Don's cruel humiliations. And Cervantes' comedy receives little praise: "Dulcinea shall be restored to Don Quixote if—now comes the rib-splitting joke—if Sancho consents to take 3000 lashes on his bare behind. Otherwise, says the Duke when he hears of the requirement, you do not get your island. The whole thing is very medieval, coarse, and stupid fun, as all fun that comes from the devil. Authentic humor comes from the angels." True, Nabokov is sometimes entertaining when he kibbitzes, one novelist to another, taking Cervantes to task for not having done a scene better; he does admire the hapless Don himself. ("He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.") But the bon mots here are scarce, and the book is little more than an acerbic, uninvolved study-guide—for Nabokov fanatics only.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 1982

ISBN: 0156495406

Page Count: 219

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1982

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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