NERUDA

AN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY

Exiled in Spain during Chile's Pinochet years, Neruda's close friend and political associate Teitelboim wrote this first major biography of the Chilean poet. Teitelboim's approach is sound on the whole. Neruda, who began to write poetry at eight and never stopped, was a force of nature, his genius an insoluble riddle. Teitelboim quotes generously from the poems and seeks their immediate source in the details of Chilean politics and Neruda's love life. He doesn't bludgeon or needle the work with textual, Freudian, or any other form of cant- ridden analysis. On the other hand, he's so close to his subject he can trip over its feet. Evoking the Chilean landscape, he sometimes writes a pale pastiche of the master. Describing the Bohemian intellectual scene of Santiago circa 1920, he drops names so freely an American reader may be bewildered. In his brief, episodic chapters, though, the savory anecdotes multiply. Neruda had a great appetite for love and friendship and the improvised life. Tales of his early stint as honorary Chilean consul in Rangoon, his years in Madrid with Garc°a Lorca, are delightful and heart-rending. If only the tone weren't so relentlessly post-Stalinist p.c. Lorca's being gay is not mentioned. Neither are the battles between anarchists and communists in the Spanish Civil War, or between Stalinists and the Trotsky circle in Mexico in the 40's. Neruda's political involvement had its ironies, not hinted at here. The result is a flattening of his complex, contradictory character in the later chapters. What does come through is the long history of American meddling in Chile, going back to the 40's. Still, Teitelboim's take on Neruda, his friend of 40 years, is unique. He knew the poet's mistress/muses when they were young and fresh. He knows them now, old, frail, and querulous. Shifting readily between vibrant past and faded present, he has written a work of elegiac charm, one that reads like a novel whose real subject, as in Neruda's beloved Proust, is the ravages wrought by passing Time.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-292-75548-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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