Stately pronouncements from a master of the form.

LIFE SENTENCES

LITERARY JUDGMENTS AND ACCOUNTS

A wry, mannered retrospective collection of essays by octogenarian Gass (A Temple of Texts, 2006, etc.).

In these wide-ranging essays, the author embarks on considerations of the function of mimesis in Greek theater with the same stylistic devotion and plentitude as he does an exegesis of lust. In “Retrospection,” a revelatory piece written at age 87, he admits that writing never came easily to him, yet creating metaphors was “unstoppable,” as natural as “carp ris[ing] to a dimple of bread.” (He lists seven personal “bad habits” in the same essay—e.g., naming, metaphoring, jingling, preaching, theorizing, celebrating, translating, all of which nicely percolate in other essays here.) The profound reading of this former philosophy professor is gorgeously in evidence—e.g., in his writing about Nietzsche, Kafka, Malcolm Lowry and Henry James, and in an excoriating look at the extent of Nazi Germany’s legitimizing of murder. His essay on the “Nordic Nazi” and little-read Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun is a fascinating study of a soul-impoverished quisling. Bass also offers erudite but no less accessible reflections in a series of Biggs Lectures in the Classics. The author delights in a well-turned sentence, and the last section of this alluring collection diagrams some duds and some doozies—e.g., Sir Walter Scott’s litany from Waverley, Chester Himes’ tough-guy constructions in Run Man Run. As a philosopher, Gass confesses that his most cherished part of speech is the preposition, particularly of, meaning “those of possession and being possessed, of belonging and exclusion.” Throughout, rhythm is the author’s organizing principle, rendering his own sentences compelling, exacting and suggestive.

Stately pronouncements from a master of the form.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-59584-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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