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 19, 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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