PROVERBS ARE NEVER OUT OF SEASON

POPULAR WISDOM IN THE MODERN AGE

In a series of engaging essays, Mieder (German and Russian/University of Vermont; Tradition and Innovation in Folk Literature, 1987) concludes that technological society needs—and generates—proverbs as much as did primitive agrarian societies. After describing the formal complexity of proverbs—their dependence on sound, syntax, and context—Mieder (ed. of The Dictionary of American Proverbs, 1991) traces their origins to the biblical, classical, and medieval traditions; their movement from individuals to communities; the role they play in cultural literacy; and what they reveal about cultural values. In a chapter on the proverb ``Early to bed and early to rise...,'' the author shows how a proverb changed from wisdom (as intended by its creator, Ben Franklin) to parody (Groucho Marx), and, in a chapter on ``Don't throw the baby out with the bath water,'' he shows how that proverb originated in Germany in 1512, migrated to England, and was popularized by G.B. Shaw. Discussing contemporary proverbs, Mieder explains how ``A picture is worth a thousand words,'' coined in 1921 by an American advertising executive, migrated to Europe. Some proverbs, such as ``A woman's place is in the house,'' have lost their meaning, while others, such as ``The early bird catches the worm,'' reveal the values of the community that uses them, or- -as in ``Practice makes perfect''—help to acculturate individuals. And proverbs can also be misused, the author shows, as in Nazi Germany. Chapters on medical proverbs (``An apple a day...'') and on Vermont's regional proverbs (``Mud thrown is ground lost'') are especially insightful, fresh, and amusing. Throughout, it's the essential fun of proverbs that Mieder conveys—as well as their literal charm. A memorable and learned book by an author who can explain as well as discover. (Thirty-six halftones, four line drawings—not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-507728-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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