Global Shopping Center
UK | Germany
Home - Books - Literature & Fiction - Essays Help

61-80 of 200     Back   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20

click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

$13.57 $12.80 list($19.95)
61. Mencken Chrestomathy
$12.60 $11.42 list($18.00)
62. Selected Non-Fictions
$13.98 list($23.00)
63. Writers on Writing: Collected
$3.49 $0.49 list($1.50)
64. Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
65. Without Reservations : The Travels
$19.51 list($22.95)
66. The Miss Dennis School of Writing:
$14.00 $12.88 list($20.00)
67. The Proper Study of Mankind: An
$6.29 $1.79 list($6.99)
68. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey
$10.50 $9.28 list($14.00)
69. Against Interpretation : And Other
$80.76 $62.56
70. The Riverside Milton
$10.20 $9.00 list($15.00)
71. The Sweet Science
$17.79 $16.42 list($26.95)
72. This I Believe : An A to Z of
$16.47 $15.67 list($24.95)
73. Campo Santo
$15.72 $1.50 list($24.95)
74. The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays
$14.96 $4.38 list($22.00)
75. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
$13.97 $13.31 list($19.95)
76. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays.
77. Kuhaku & Other Accounts from
$10.20 $5.95 list($15.00)
78. Essays of E. B. White (Perennial
$6.29 $0.90 list($6.99)
79. Uh-Oh
$3.73 list($29.95)
80. A Jacques Barzun Reader: Selections

61. Mencken Chrestomathy
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394752090
Catlog: Book (1982-04-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 16437
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

A choice selection of H.L. Mencken's previouslyout-of-print writings. Highly recommended! ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great read
I really like this book. Mencken's prose and unflinching attitude is like no other author I have read. I don't know if they used the middle finger in the early 1900s but if so, then HLM was its personification. If you were to tally his word usage in the book I believe "idiot", "imbecile", "buffoon", "moron" and "mountebank" would be near the top.

This book contains one of my favorite essay and the single biggest reason to own this book, his piece on the critical process. It's only a 10 page essay but it's probably the most eloquent. For whatever reason he put it around page 450, but I would recommend reading it first. It puts a reader in the right frame of mind for reading Mencken's essays. He explains a worthwhile critic is not so much concerned with truth or detail. Instead a truly great critic takes the target of the criticism and uses it to develop his own original ideas. It separates those who would just be archivists with those who would be artists. Clearly, Mencken was not concerned with the former, he was concerned with art and he was an artist.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book ever written
Perhaps I am biased. Mayhap I am gushing. I don't mind- I have read a good couple thousand books in my lifetime, and I have reviewed a few dozen for Yet this is the one I keep coming back to read, year after year. As time goes by I find myself revising the scale of Mencken's achievement upwards and upwards, especially knowing that the only comparison is to other mere mortal writers.

What makes this book brilliant is its terse structure- it is fragmented and in short pieces, and this produces his intense compact wit in wave after wave of the finest observations and thoughts to come out of mortal man since Tom Sawyer. A Mencken Chrestomathy utterly fails to do badly at every turn.

If you have glanced at this book, and have even a tiny thought at not buying at least two copies, shoot yourself in the foot for punishment, then go buy a dozen copies and pass them out to your superior friends as rewards for their sagacity and charm and as a reward for their loyalty. But if you have little humanity and wish to punish a friend or make their lives more miserable, do not tell them of this book, and leave it right where it is.

I give no book this high a regard. But I give this one my complete, unconditional support. If you have the means, I suggest buying a thousand copies and distributing it among the hungry of mind for the wonderful elixer of an effect Mencken has upon the mind.

The only thing bad about this book is the covers are too close together.

5-0 out of 5 stars Genius lives today
This book changed my life. It is the first of the dozen or so books that I have read by Mencken, but still my favorite. Mencken has opened up a whole new world for me. His irreverent debunking of favorite quacks have prompted me to look anew at a few of my own. His incredible knowledge of the English language has raised the standards I expect others to meet, not a little. And my vicarious contact with his world has made me work to improve my own.

Mencken, I am convinced, was a genius whose writings will live long even into the next century. His writing is the only one that I feel compelled to read aloud to my wife, arms raised in excitement and for emphasis, daring her to contradict the glory of his prose.

What contemporary American writer can match his mastery? I've read a lot, but I can't give even an approximation. His style is elegant, distinctively American, and a joy to read. Something like listening to a singer who you know has an absolute control of her material, a voice that does exactly what she intends, and the aesthetic sense of an angel.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction to Mencken
Since Mencken was writing at the turn of the Century, some of these brief essays are a bit dated (duh!), but still well written and quite clever. His views on Religion and Government are quite thought provoking. This isn't the kind of book that you necessarily would want to read straight through at one sitting, but seems more appropriate for passing the odd half hour that you don't want to waste in front of the TV. A Good Libertarian book...

5-0 out of 5 stars No Mencken fan should be without it.
The _Chrestomathy_ is, basically, the basic work that no Mencken fan should miss. In it, you find an overview of Mencken's work, selected by Mencken himself before his stroke. There are too many highlights to tell about in a brief review. ... Read more

62. Selected Non-Fictions
by Jorge Luis Borges
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140290117
Catlog: Book (2000-11-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 97673
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

This unique volume presents a Borges almost entirely unknown to American readers: his extraordinary non--fiction prose. Borges' unlimited curiosity and almost superhuman erudition become, in his essays, reviews, lectures, and political and cultural notes, a vortex for seemingly the entire universe: Dante and Ellery Queen; Shakespeare and the Kabbalah; the history of angels and the history of the tango; the Buddha, Bette Davis, and the Dionne Quints.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism
Chosen International Book of the Year by George Steiner in the Times Literary Supplement
... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone
This is one of those books you can just pick up, open to a random page, and start reading. His essays, like his stories, are quite short, and he writes on an astonishing variety of subjects. A big movie fan before he went blind, he writes on "Citizen Kane", "King Kong" and "The 39 Steps". He writes on Germany as it descends into barbarism in the 30s and 40s. He shares his thoughts on a wide array of writers, from Virgil to Kierkegaard to Shakespeare, to his wonderful meditations on Dante, and into Dostoevsky, Whitman, Joyce, Kafka, Faulkner, even Bradbury and H.G. Wells. I've barely even scratched the surface. The companion collection is called "Collected Fictions", which is funny since the line between fiction and non-fiction is often quite blurry for Borges. But both these collections are highly recommended for anyone and everyone, regardless of familiarity with the author.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sundae of Borges
Borges, besides being a poet and short-fiction writer, took his ultra-worldly ideas to "non-fiction" pieces as well. As you can imagine, the mind-bending work in fiction is even more thought provoking when Borges remarks on Shakespeare, the clipping of one's toes, or the nature of art.

Perhaps the best part of this collection are the "non-fictions" from The Chronicles of Bustos Domeqc -- a very cheeky collection of essays which are written about fictive subjects: a poet who is doomed to repeat himself, a new wave of cuisine where taste has devolved to elemental proportions -- salty, sweet, tart, etc.

Borges wrote as a literarist: he knew his work would be collected, read, and re-read. These collection "non-fictions" are finely translated, with a fresh breath and fresh pen by a trio of translaters.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jorge Luis Borges And The Canadian Rebellion Of 1944 That Cu
Jorge Luis Borges And The Canadian Rebellion Of 1944 That Cut Off Relations With Greece
Many sociologists agree that Jorge Luis Borges is clearly the most monumental event in Roman history. While other powerful scholars may disagree, it became obvious that Jorge Luis Borges was not nearly as monumental as Cuban anthropologists would have us believe. This claim is confirmed by three skillful points: the Marcus Aurelius Coup of 1916 that cut off relations with Ireland, the Roman Doctrine of 1968 that paved the way for the Anarchism Doctrine, and the Abraham Lincoln Revolution of 1945 that improved relations with the Italian citizenry.

In 1781 a member of a reknown group of Japanese historical writers wrote: "Nothing succeeds like success." (King 90) In some circles, this caused revolution; in others, revulsion. This begs the question, was Jorge Luis Borges Colonialism? In 1913 it was thought that "It hath been an opinion that the American elite are wiser than they seem, and the French populace seem wiser than they are; but howsoever it be between nations, certainly it is so in Jorge Luis Borges." (Gould 120) Obviously sociologists recognize that the two are intertwined.

These days the lessons of Jorge Luis Borges seem outdated and irrelevant. It's easy to forget that, once, Jorge Luis Borges was a reknown force that changed the minds and hearts of the Italian landed gentry. Even as late as 1945, Abraham Lincoln noted, "To the memory of Jorge Luis Borges, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of German countrymen." (Cromwell 121) God bless America.

The End


5-0 out of 5 stars Across The Ocean - Another Labyrinth.
One of the most cherished items in my ever-expanding library is my dog-eared copy of "Labyrinths", complete with the coffee-, alcohol-, and bath stains which lend it almost as much character as the words within its covers. This new edition of Borges selected non-fiction will no doubt in the fullness of time reach a position of equal prominence on my bookshelves. The debate will forever rage as to whether Borges deserves that grandest(yet often all too hollow and ephemeral) of epithets - "Great Writer", purely by virtue of the fact that he never wrote anything of more than a few pages in length. But the pellucidity and erudition of his prose raises quality above quantity to an altitude from where we lose sight of the debate, thus rendering it redundant. Along with a number of essays already available elsewhere, including the seminal "New Refutation Of Time", this collection ranges in typical Borges style from film reviews (King Kong, The Petrified Forest etc.), through dispassionate yet condemnatory meditations on Fascism, to his well- ploughed but ever-fruitful ground of literary rumination.His series of essays on Dante opened this reader's eyes-and heart- to the true heartbreaking nature of that poet's relationship with Beatrice, prompting a reappraisal of a book I gave up on fifteen years ago, halfway through "Il Purgatorio"; this summer, I've promised myself, I WILL read the whole of "Il Divina Commedia".Not out of a sense of duty, you understand, but because I WANT to. Therein lies the hub of Borges greatness as a writer: his self-proclaimed greatness as a reader manifests itself on the written page as dizzying eclecticism and enthusiasm for allusion that moves the reader to explore not only new avenues of thought, but also a newer and more verdant landscape of literature than had previously been suspected to even exist. Sail with Borges and new continents, new constellations will rise before you. On a personal note I have Borges to thank for my discovery of Hume, Chesterton, the Pre-Socratics, St Augustine,Flann O'Brien,Thomas Browne, and so many others who would have remained permanently below my horizon otherwise. If you feel that reading a book should an experience of expansion, of glimpsing new vistas,to develop a hunger for exploration, then this is for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vastly enjoyable
In one of the pieces contained in this book, Borges claims that more than a writer, what he really was was a great reader. That was his vocation. Indeed, I do not know of anyone who read more widely, with more understanding, and with more contagious enjoyment that Borges. The pieces in this collection shine through with his delight for what has been termed "the aesthetics of intelligence": knowledge and abstract thought as art.

Borges, who never wrote anything long in his life, was the master of the short essay. Every piece is full of profoundest and most unexpected insights, whether it purports to be about Citizen Kane, Argentinian literature, or the Ars Combinatoria of Ramon Llull. I recommend this book very highly. ... Read more

63. Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times (Writers on Writing (Times Books Hardcover))
list price: $23.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805067418
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Times Books
Sales Rank: 428230
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

After 30 years as a journalist, John Darnton decided to try his hand at writing a novel. If he wrote 1,000 words a day, he discovered, he'd have a book in a matter of months. But wouldn't it be nice to learn a few tricks of the trade from other writers as well? Thus was born The New York Times's Monday-morning Writers on Writing series. In embarking on the series, says Darnton, he learned that the writers he most wanted to hear from were not necessarily the same ones who most wanted to hear from him. But there couldn't have been too many who turned him down. The 46 columns collected in Writers on Writing are by the likes of Saul Bellow, Mary Gordon, David Mamet, Annie Proulx, Carol Shields, and Paul West. Though many of them have not much more than the occupation "writer" in common, Darnton says that in one way he found them all to be alike: "They wanted to hear, right away, what you thought of their work."

Here, Richard Ford explains why he finds not writing to be a terrific thing. Alice Hoffman describes the effect illness (her own and that of others) has had on her work. Barbara Kingsolver grapples with writing an "unchaste" novel. Louise Erdrich explores the effect a second language, Ojibwe in her case, can have on one's involvement with the first. And Russell Banks learns the hard way that "when you meet a witness to your distant past, your memory tends to improve." The most hilarious piece is Carolyn Chute's "How Can You Create Fiction When Reality Comes to Call?" In it, she describes one day, in which "X-rated stuff happens," the cuckoo clock goes off incessantly, dirty dishes beckon, political cohorts come calling, a dog has a couple of seizures, laundry needs doing, and guests constantly arrive. Once Chute finally does get down to writing, the "n" breaks off the daisy wheel. But at least the phone doesn't ring. "Its bell is broken. It never rings. Thank heavens." --Jane Steinberg ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing breadth of thought on the act of writing
It's amazing that the more than three dozen writers contributing to "Writers on Writing" managed each to have a different view of the topic at hand.Everyone from Annie Proulx to Jamaica Kincaid to E. L. Doctorow to the late Saul Bellow approaches the act of writing differently, and each has different thoughts to offer.Some of the essays are funny, some are quietly sad, and still others address the dual difficulty and delight of turning out something new and yet universal.

The breadth of thought is amazing, but each of the essays is skillful and thought-provoking.Perhaps my favorite was by Alice Hoffman, who writes, "I wrote to find beauty and purpose, to know that love is possible and lasting and real, to see daylilies and swimming pools, loyalty and devotion, even though my eyes were closed and all that surrounded me was a dark room.I wrote because that was who I was at the core, and if I was too damaged to walk around the block, I was lucky all the same.Once I got to my desk, once I started writing, I still believed anything was possible."

In this short passage, she speaks for all the writers here, in saying that writing is a need, not a desire, and that the act is without boundaries and filled with possibility.This is a useful and enriching book for writers, and for those who are simply curious about how writers do what they do.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected, but Useful
This is more of a collection of the details of individual authors' lives than of their writing tactics, lessons learned, or other habits, but it does include all of the above.If nothing else, it shows us that writers, even the ones we recognize the names of, are regular people, all of various backgrounds and brought to the "call of writing" by different means.

The various essays help us beginners to remember that we are not starting out with any less advantage than those that have preceeded us...or beat us to publication.There are also useful excerpts from authors' daily lives, showing us how they battle writers' block or just fit in a personal life with their writing life.

All in all, the book takes more of a literary slant than a very down-to-earth and practical one, but that does vary by the included authors.It would've also been nice to have short bios or publishing histories of the authors listed in the book for those that come across as particularly interesting or are unfamiliar to the individual reader.But, we do have for that info., don't we?:)

5-0 out of 5 stars Writers as the most individual of individuals
Forty- six writers speak about the life of the writer. They provide a whole host of interesting observations. Vonnegut tells us that he learned from Aristotle that to write comedy one must write about characters the readers feel superior to. And that to write tragedy there must be one character that the readers feel superior to them. Joyce Carol Oates tells about the strange feeling about living in one of the major cities of the world for a sabbatical year, London, and having her heart and mind in Detroit. Bellow tells about the slightly uneasy feeling of the writer before the neighbors who are always wondering what this guy is doing at home. Elie Weisel talks about how Hasidic story formed his imagination and still lives within him. Each of the writers seems to have his own problems, obsessions and methods. It is almost as if they were saying ' Of course all human beings are individuals, but somehow writers are among the most individual of individuals. A good collection.
One point though. In part because the Paris Reviews are longer, and in part I think because there is someone who asks questions about the work of the writer the Paris Review interviews about writing are richer than these.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Essays on Writing
"Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them," Elie Wisel noted. How true, isn't it? What a wonderful, priceless reflection on the craft of writing.

The New York Times produced a beautiful collections of essay on writing. Inviting literary talents (giants really) like Russell Banks, Updike, Alice Walker, Elie Wiesel, Jamaica Kincaid, David Leavitt, Susan Sontag, Saul Bellow and many more.

Annie Proulx's essay on collecting books from yard sales is highly inspiring. Same with Bellow's encouragement for us, the society, to discover the magic of literature once more.

WRITERS ON WRITING is for anyone who needs inspiration and guide, and for those interested in the art of writing.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lacks substance
Very disappointing. The occassional gem (like Jamaica Kincaid's) brought my review up by one star, but by and large these essays read like tossed-off first drafts. Sure the crafting of each piece was tight--these folks are professionals and the Times is no rag. But they lacked profundity, and why bother writing something that says nothing? More to the point, why read it?

I wanted more--insight, substance, something, anything--from these authors. It wasn't here, but I found it in the Washington Post's version: "The Writing Life" edited by Maria Arana. At 400+ pages deep, that one's worth the price and time. ... Read more

64. Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Henry David Thoreau
list price: $1.50
our price: $3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486275639
Catlog: Book (1993-05-20)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 12540
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Philosopher, naturalist and rugged individualist, Thoreau has inspired generations of readers to think for themselves and to find meaning and beauty in nature. This representative sampling includes five of his most frequently read and cited essays: "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" (1849), "Life without Principle" (1863), "Slavery in Massachusetts" (1854), "A Plea for Captain John Brown" (1869) and "Walking" (1862). Reprinted from standard editions.
... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars The moral obligation to resist
Henry David Thoreau did not just think, he acted. In order to see which luxuries of life he could live without, he lived in a secluded area for two years near Walden pond. Instead of paying a poll tax he thought unjust, he spent a night in jail. Thoreau backed his thoughts with action, and this gives validity to many of his writings.

Perhaps no work of Thoreau has been more influential than his essay "Civil Disobedience." Many world leaders, including Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., drew inspiration from this classic treatise on passive, nonviolent resistance. Simply put, Thoreau did not believe in allowing government to take more of his personal liberty than he, Thoreau, was willing to surrender. He also believed that, as citizens under a government, people have the moral obligation to break any law they think unjust (provided it does not injure another). This is the basic premise of "Civil Disobedience," that "I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn."

All of the essays in this collection are important, but none has the tremendous power of "Civil Disobedience," one of the classics in American thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars ". . . the most American of us all"
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), in his essays, expressed a point of view which continues to be relevant not only in the United States, but in any society that values civil liberties and democratic ideals. "Civil Disobedience and Other Essays," from Dover Publications, brings together the title essay along with four other pieces: "Slavery in Massachusetts," "A Plea for Captain John Brown," "Walking," and "Life Without Principle."

Reading Thoreau's work, I was struck by how much some of his ideals are echoed by a later United States activist: the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau was passionately opposed to slavery. He also cast a critical eye on the concept of majority rule, and was concerned about the place of a minority within an unjust system of laws. He has some noteworthy thoughts on the U.S. Constitution.

Thoreau is not just a "theoretical" radical; in the title essay he reflects on a night he spent in jail as a result of his civil disobedience (that event inspired the excellent play "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail," by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee). Thoreau's voice is still strong after all these years, and deserves to be heard by contemporary audiences. One final note: In his defense of the militant abolitionist John Brown, Thoreau describes Brown as "the most American of us all." I think that such a description also fits Thoreau himself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Arise, Ye Overworked Americans!
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American philosopher, poet, and naturalist who moved in the same intellectual and social circles as Ralph Waldo Emerson. This Dover Thrift edition contains several important Thoreau tracts: Civil Disobedience, Slavery in Massachusetts, A Plea for Captain John Brown, Walking, and Life Without Principle. Thoreau also wrote the famous "Walden," and several other influential pieces shaped by his sense of environment and his unwavering belief in the power of the individual.

In "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau discusses the role of the individual in society and government. Starting off with his famous statement, "That government is best which governs not at all," Thoreau waxes philosophic about the role of the United States government in the Mexican War and slavery. Thoreau argues that majorities in a democracy decide what the laws are because they are the strongest element in society. According to Thoreau, what is law is not necessarily right, and just because the majority decides an issue doesn't automatically make that issue palatable to a man's conscience. Individuals can, and sometimes should, oppose the majority, and they can be right even if they are in the minority. Ultimately, if laws are not reliable beacons of truth, one should appeal to one's conscience to decide what is right and wrong. However, merely deciding something is wrong is not enough if that decision is not followed by concrete action. Thoreau criticizes the voting process in this context, since anybody can vote for something. Without action following a decision, voting or supporting something is useless. This essay also contains Thoreau's account of his stay in jail for failure to pay a tax.

"A Plea for Captain John Brown" probably caused considerable controversy at the time of its writing. John Brown was the fire-breathing abolitionist who made the famous raid on Harper's Ferry in the 1850's. Brown eventually went to the gallows for his crimes while American citizens debated his actions. Most thought Brown a wacko, an extremely dangerous radical who threatened the social fabric of the country. Thoreau defends Brown in an essay both eloquent and naïve. This is really a panegyric to an unrealistic man who used questionable methods to attain his goal. When Thoreau refers to Brown as "an angel of light," it is necessary for the reader to remember Brown killed many people in cold blood.

"Walking" is the centerpiece of this collection of essays. Thoreau starts his discussion by musing on the wonders of walking in the country (sans terre, or "sauntering"), and ends up discussing nature, the movements of mankind, work, and freedom. Thoreau feels we gave up something very special when we locked ourselves in our shops and devoted our days to long hours of work. Get out! Enjoy life! Admire the trees, a sunset, and the birds! Don't give up your freedom for a wage and dull toil! These are the things Thoreau urges upon us in this essay, and he certainly has a point. This is an amazing piece of writing because it is probably more relevant today than in Thoreau's time. At least in those days vast expanses of nature still existed. Today, we must climb into our little boxes with wheels and drive for miles before we see a small forest or some mountains, while elbowing our way through all the others doing the same thing. "Walking" is a beautiful testament to a bucolic life.

I find Thoreau's writings vastly superior to anything Emerson wrote. Thoreau is more accessible, cares more about concrete issues, and seems like a nicer person. Thoreau comes across as the type of guy you could shoot the breeze with for an hour or so, whereas Emerson seems aloof and esoteric. Thoreau as a person is from an era long dead, but his words continue to resonate deeply in our souls. I think I'll go take a walk.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Beautiful. Buy it.
I devoured this book in a few hours, stopping every few minutes to think and write about what I was reading, and then forced it on my boyfriend the next day. This is a brilliant and amazing book, Thoreau is one of my literary heroes, and you won't believe the price tag for something this wonderful.

4-0 out of 5 stars Seminal American political philosophy
It is unfortunate that Henry David Thoreau experience little renown in his lifetime, but I am glad to see that he is now recognized as one of the leading lights of American political philosophy, as he well deserves to be. His writings, which have influenced everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Ghandi to Robert A. Heinlein to Don Henley, are the very essence of the strength of invididualism and freedom of the spirit. Thoreau was vehemently against slavery (his two essays on the subject in this volume are so passionate that they may move you to tears), and the title essay is, of course, a classic in itself. Distilling the virtues of conscience over the mere created laws of man, Thoreau makes a very good case here for self-government, and I am surprised he is not more frequently cited by the Liberterian movement. His remembrance of when he spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax - in which he says he felt that the prison walls did not confine him, that he felt more free than ever inside them, that he came to feel sorry for the state and even pity them for resorting to such measures, and that he, in fact, felt like he was the only citizen who did pay his poll tax - I find truly inspiring. They just don't make men like that, anymore. While many of us may find it hard to be so idealistic about things, we are reminded, in reading this, of a time when people could - and did - truly die for what they believed in. One wonders what Thoreau would think of present-day America. Life Without Principle is another eye-opening piece, in which Thoreau condemns the American social system and job ladder. Walking is a classic that is still cited by conservationists everywhere, and that helped in a big way in the U.S.'s national parks movement. Seminal American writing in the tradition of Thomas Paine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other great American thinkers. ... Read more

65. Without Reservations : The Travels of an Independent Woman
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375501886
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 417868
Average Customer Review: 3.73 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description


Dear Alice,

Each morning I am awakened by the sound of a tinkling bell. A cheerful sound, it reminds me of the bells that shopkeepers attach to their doors at Christmastime. In this case, the bell marks the opening of the hotel door. From my room, which is just off the winding staircase, I can hear it clearly. It reminds me of the bell that calls to worship the novice embarking on a new life. In a way I too am a novice, leaving, temporarily, one life for another.


In the tradition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea and Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, in Without Reservations we take time off with Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Steinbach as she explores the world and rediscovers what it means to be a woman on her own.

"In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes Alice Steinbach, a single working mother, in this captivating book. "For years I'd made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow, and had relationships that allowed for a lot of freedom on both sides." Slowly, however, she saw that she had become quite dependent in another way:"I had fallen into the habit . . . of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me." Who am I, she wanted to know, away from the things that define me--my family, children, job, friends? Steinbach searches for the answer to this provocative question in some of the most exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate in a Japanese man; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards Steinbach wrote home to herself to preserve her spontaneous impressions, this revealing and witty book will transport readers instantly into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.
... Read more

Reviews (60)

3-0 out of 5 stars good not great
I think my main problem with Without Reservations was that I was expecting something else. I looked forward to the author's detailed travelogues of Venice, Paris, and Oxford, to see these places through her alleged journalistic penchant for detail. When she describes that she has no experience in traveling abroad, I expected a tale about her foibles and discoveries about the different cultures where she planned to reside. What I found was that Steinbach DOES have reservations -- about her self-esteem, about her place in the world, of her sense of self, of how others define her and how she defines herself. I think the disappointment came from my hoping for a travelogue where the focus is on art, culture and external experiences. Still -- as the book progresses she relaxes more and more into her own skin and she learns how to let go, stop deliberating over every move and just go with whatever life has in store for her. Her physical travels begin to parallel her journey of self-awareness and confidence. The more far-out she perceives an event to be, the more she loosens up to have fun and find out about herself and who she is, from a love affair with a Japanese gentleman to developing unexpected and immediate friendships to dancing all night with her Oxford classmates. Maybe my incessant reading of travel books and cookie-cutter expectations put a damper on my total enjoyment of Steinbach's book. I found it interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for a straight-forward detailed travel memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Read
Having heard about Steinbach's book on public radio, and being a divorced mother of a grown son, with my own love of travel, and some experience traveling on my own, I was anxious to find out how the author's experiences compared to my own. I got so much more than I had expected, and was sorry to have the book end. "Without Reservations" is non-fiction but reads like a novel in many ways. She is a fine story teller, and her descriptions of all that she observed in her travels, (from the distinctive and unpredictable rooms she rented in small European hotels, to the views of an amazing Italian countryside, as well as the wide array of interesting, yet unexpected short-term relationships she developed along the way) were vivid and very entertaining. I would have liked a little follow-up regarding her life since her travels which took place back in 1993, but this is a minor complaint. I highly recommend this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Woman of Independence and Adventure
I purchased "Without Reservations" after returning home from a quick trip to Europe. You see I had left my heart there and I needed a quick fix while pining away at home waiting for yet another friend to venture out and dare get a passport.

Alice Steinbach writes with a capturing style about her adventures abroad (England, Paris, Italy etc..) all alone. For once a woman who believes in experience over fear! She is a mother, divorced, successful and still desiring a fulfilling life. I admire her spirit and enthusiasm for life. While capturing her inner fears she relies on her wit and knowledge to overcome what would leave most of us sitting at home cowering in a corner.

Ms. Steinbach meets interesting people along the way, a fashionable older woman in Paris, a Japanese man who shares her love of Monet, a young student eager to grow and many others. She inspires one to want to reach out and learn something from the others around us, not for gossip, but for true wealth of character. I believe after reading this book I will no longer seek the security of familar travel partners but instead search for a lesser known commodity, me, a suitcase, a destination and a dream! Sounds exciting to me!

5-0 out of 5 stars Carpe Diem
Who doesn't dream of quitting her job and traveling the world? Alice Steinbach wangles a leave of absence from her job and goes to Europe -- the dream with training wheels. Even though she has the security of knowing her home and job are waiting for her and she goes to countries that are comfortably strange, it is still a big leap for her. She makes the most of it and tells a great story.

Steinbach seems to make friends everywhere she goes. She travels with the attitude of a college student backpacking through Europe, hooking up with temporary friends at each stop. She treats her affair with Naohiro like a summer romance, intense, but sure to be temporary. Sometimes you forget that she is a middle-aged woman with two grown sons and a responsible career back home.

And that is the point. She wants to see who she is when the responsibilities of adulthood are stripped away. Is the young woman who wasn't afraid to take chances still there somewhere? Who is Alice Steinbach when she is not defined as "mother" and "reporter"? In nine months of travels through Paris, Britain, and Italy, she gradually sheds her inhibitions and fears, and gets reacquainted with living for the day.

Without Reservations is an upbeat, sometimes bittersweet, narrative of what feels like a prelude to a bigger leap. I am looking forward to her next book, Educating Alice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully layered tale of travel and life
I just finished this book and will miss spending time following Ms. Steinbach around on her travels,reading her musings on her life and the world around her. It is a book that will resonate with women who have empty nest. I completely identified with her; having 2 sons myself, 2 cats and terminal wanderlust. She writes so eloquently of how she feels when her children are grown and independant. It's her personal journey to find out how she fits into this new life-without-children. She christens it by taking time off to travel for 9 months alone to discover, who she is, was and who she will become. Even though most people will not be able to do as she did, it does not affect the enjoyment of the book. It is written in a very warm style and you will end the book wishing that in your travels, you will bump into her. ... Read more

66. The Miss Dennis School of Writing: And Other Lessons from a Woman's Life
by Alice Steinbach
list price: $22.95
our price: $19.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0963124625
Catlog: Book (1996-10-01)
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Sales Rank: 108541
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

This first book by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Steinbach is an intimate, personal collection of essays, rememberances, and columns that follows in the creative non-fiction tradition of Anna Quindelen and Mary Sarton. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book to be shared
I purchased this book because I had enjoyed 'Without Reservations' so much. I often share books with my closest friend. By the time I had read the introduction and the first few pages, I knew it would not be enough to simply have her read it when I was done. I knew we had to read it together, taking turns reading it aloud (a new experience for us). Steinbach's musings on everyday life are insightful, laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, a true delight. I plan to buy several copies for Christmas gifts. ... Read more

67. The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays
by Isaiah Berlin, Henry Hardy, Roger Hausheer
list price: $20.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374527172
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Sales Rank: 62548
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Isaiah Berlin was one of the leading thinkers of our time and one of its finest writers. The Proper Study of Mankind brings together his most celebrated writing: here the reader will find Berlin's famous essay on Tolstoy, "The Hedgehog and the Fox"; his penetrating portraits of contemporaries from Pasternak and Akhmatova to Churchill and Roosevelt; his essays on liberty and his exposition of pluralism; his defense of philosophy and history against assimilation to scientific method; and his brilliant studies of such intellectual originals as Machiavelli, Vico, and Herder.
... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Includes summaries of some long conversations
Isaiah Berlin wrote a lot of essays, as the size of this book, THE PROPER STUDY OF MANKIND, absolutely demonstrates. Near the middle of the book is an essay, "The Originality of Machiavelli," which shows how well Berlin could categorize intellectual activities into various kinds of significance.

"His distrust of unworldly attitudes, absolute principles divorced from empirical observation, is fanatically strong - almost romantic in its violence; the vision of the great prince playing upon human beings like an instrument intoxicates him. He assumes that different societies must always be at war with each other, since they have differing purposes. He sees history as an endless process of cut-throat competition, . . ." (p. 318).

The index is great, and even has an entry for "Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich . . . conversation with Stalin." Pasternak wanted to talk to Stalin, but the question which Stalin put to Pasternak, "whether he was present when a lampoon about himself, Stalin, was recited by Mandel'shtam" (p. 533) was not what Pasternak wanted to talk about. Pasternak wanted to talk to Stalin "about ultimate issues, about life and death." (p. 534). After Stalin put down the receiver, "Pasternak tried to ring back but, not surprisingly, failed to get through to the leader." (p. 534). Stalin had been quick to decide where that conversation was going, and cut it short by observing, "If I were Mandel'shtam's friend, I should have known better how to defend him." (p. 534). It is not obvious that Stalin would have appreciated a defense which asserted that the poem about Stalin was more true than anything else that Pasternak had ever seen, read, or heard, and any decent country would have comedians that would constantly broadcast such ideas on the radio 24/7 until the invention of TV would allow people to watch movies like "Forrest Gump" in the comfort of their own homes. Stalin has been rightly condemned for being hopelessly authoritarian when judging humor that was aimed at his sorry self, and Isaiah Berlin sees the pattern as one that Russia was particularly prone to suffer indefinitely. "Whatever the differences between the old and the new Russia, suspicion and persecution of writers and artists were common to both." (p. 537).

Berlin's account of his conversations with Anna Akhmatova strive to reflect what culture means for people who actively create work like Heine's comment, "I may not deserve to be remembered as a poet, but surely as a soldier in the battle for human freedom." (p. 537). We are now such a comic society on a global level that pop mock rap on the internet can pick on the soldier's mentality in a hilarious way, but it is good to be able to read Isaiah Berlin to account for how much such humor matters.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fabulous collection of essays
Isaiah Berlin probably is one of the 20th century's most underrated thinkers. A truely learned man he brought his insight in the history of ideas, reflecting on the elightenment and freedom, the golden age of Russian literature, and rubbing shoulders with the high and the mighty. All of these facets are displayed here. Mr. Hardy has done an exceptional job at assembling these essays. My favorite being "The Hedgehog and the Fox." In this essay, Berlin explores the natures of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky is the hedgehog who knows one thing really well. Tolstoy is the fox, reflecting his epic sweep and universal understanding of humanity. In a nutshell, Berlin's political philosophy is strongly lined up on the side of freedom and the dignity of the individual. Not exactly in favor in these days of extremist bland thinking. My one complaint is that there is so much more to Berlin than these exceptional essays. If 20th century philosophy is to be remembered as more than an unpleasant memory, it will be as the time of the age of Berlin.

5-0 out of 5 stars hedgehog and fox
The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing -Archilochus, 8th century BC

Never have the readers of the New York Times been more humbled and mystified than the November day in 1997 when the paper ran a front page obituary for the Latvian-born British philosopher Isaiah Berlin. You could hear the collective gasp and feel the pull of the intake of breath as thousands of folks who pride themselves on being "in the know" turned to one another and asked, across a table laid with grapefruit halves and bran cereal,, "Was I supposed to know who Isaiah Berlin was? I've never heard of him." The answer is that there was no real reason most of us would have heard of him, though we'd likely read a couple of his book reviews. He was after all a philosopher who never produced a magnum opus summarizing his worldview. His reputation really rested on a couple of amusing anecdotes, one oft-cited essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox, and on his talents as a conversationalist, which would obviously only have been known to an elite few. Oddly enough, he has experienced a significant revival of interest since his death, but he is basically still just known for this essay.

If, like me, you finally forced yourself to read War and Peace and were simply mystified by several of the historic and battle scenes, this essay is a godsend. Though many critics, and would would assume almost all readers, have tended to just ignore these sections of the book, Berlin examines them in light of Tolstoy's philosophy of history and makes a compelling case that Tolstoy intended the action of these scenes to be confusing. As Berlin uses the fox and hedgehog analogy, a hedgehog is an author who has a unified vision which he follows in his writing ("...a single, universal, organising principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance...") , a fox has no central vision nor organizing principle; his writings are varied, even contradictory. Berlin argues that Tolstoy was a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog, that he longed for a central idea to organize around, but so distrusted the capacity of human reason to discern such an idea, that he ended up knocking down what he saw as faulty ideas, without ever settling on one of his own.

According to Berlin, in War and Peace, Tolstoy used the chaotic swirl of events to dispel a "great illusion" : "that individuals can, by the use of their own resources, understand and control the course of events." Or as he puts it later, Tolstoy perceived a "central tragedy" of human life :

...if only men would learn how little the cleverest and most gifted among them can control, how little they can know of all the multitude of factors the orderly movement of which is the history of the world...

This idea is strikingly similar to the argument that F. A. Hayek made almost a century later in his great book The Road to Serfdom, though Hayek made it in opposition to centralized government planning. Tolstoy's earlier development of this theme makes him a pivotal figure in the critique of reason and a much more significant figure than I'd ever realized in the history of conservative thought.

I'd liked War and Peace more than I expected to when I first read it--despite not grasping what he was about in these sections of the book--and I'm quite anxious to reread it now in light of Berlin's really enlightening analysis. I've no idea how to judge the rest of Berlin's work or how he ranks as a philosopher, but you can't ask more of literary criticism than that it explain murky bits, that it engender or rekindle interest in an otherwise musty-seeming work, and that it take a potentially dated book and make us realize that it is still relevant. This essay succeeds on all those levels. In this instance at least, Isaiah Berlin warrants his hefty reputation.


5-0 out of 5 stars A Renaissance for the Humanities
"The Proper Study of Mankind" is an awe-inspiring anthology of seventeen essays in the Humanities by the erudite and engaging Isaiah Berlin. The title may seem a bit stilted for Berlin, who is no starched collar, and whose writing is crisp, crackling, and refreshingly free of pomp and pedantry. But long as one stops and thinks (something going out of fashion these days, but still very much in the spirit of Berlin)...that title does make sense. Of course! "The proper study of Mankind is Man." Not ideals. Not ideologies. But human beings as they really are--and what they actually do.

Berlin does not believe in final solutions to human questions. There is no definitive answer once and for all. Nor is there one way, the way, the only way to be, live, act, think, learn, work, write, express oneself, etc. Man is not singular. Man is plural. That is what makes humanity so facinating to "study." The mystery, the drama, the unpredictability of these intractable creatures baffle social scientists, human engineers, controlling personalities who--try as they may!--cannot quite track down, trap, take prisoner the wildly elusive chimera of "human nature."

Ah, but Shakespeare delights in this dazzling dance. And so does Berlin. He writes with riveting wonder at the butterfly flights of human beings, human minds, human wills, human histories. He traces errant clues left behind, on scattered pages, to defy the wind of time. Berlin is sensitive to these fragile fragments of thought, these traces, these rumblings of the human spirit. He is a great historian of ideas--one who listens with a keen sense of hearing for echoes and reverberations in the din of cacophony. He is a perceptive discerner of patterns in space, careers through time, and points of origin. He is original. He does not regurgitate his enormous reading. Rather, he chews, tastes, savors, spits out fat, sucks up marrow, and digests. Thus fortified by this huge feast of reading, Berlin writes something utterly new, all his own, from all that he has read.

The most stirring, most exciting, pages in this anthology are those of the finale (section V) of Berlin's essay on "The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will." When Berlin writes like this, you don't just see light, you feel fire! But then, turning to Berlin's penetrating essay on "The Origins of Machiavelli," the reader is captivated by an utterly different set of sensations: depth, moisture, deep caves, dank smells, dirt, digging in darkness, fearful, clutching one's dagger, probing, deeper--a Dante-esque spiralling down to the bowels of the earth--followed by a swift sudden plunge into the heart of this seminal genius, this Machiavelli, this spectre of the night whose short, simple, virus-like books continue to plague the west, century after century. This too is great reading!

Indeed, all of the essays in this anthology are good. It's just that some are better than others--depending on what you are looking for. The first six essays are predominantly conceptual. They distill the ideas. Thus, they have punch and potency. But they are somewhat dry and lacking in flavor. Reading them, the connoisseur sips pure alcohol. All the while, however, he or she longs for the exquisite taste of an excellent wine: full-bodied, fruity, robust, bursting with bouquet, and delightfully complex. That is to say: the vintage Berlin.

Abruptly after the first six essays, however, the corks pop, the writing flows, and taste buds bathe in champagne. Berlin is at his best--humane, historical, humorous--in the nine essays that follow: four on "The History of Ideas"; three on "Russian Writers"; and two on "Romanticism and Nationalism." The remaining essays, the last two, on "Twentieth-Century Figures" (Churchill and Roosevelt) round out the feast with a delicious dessert. After devouring this book, however, I keep coming back for seconds, thirds, fourths from my favorite essays--those on Romanticism, Nationalism, the Counter-Enlightenment, and, of course, Machiavelli.

Still, each essay in this anthology is ingenious in its own way: the approach, the point of view, the style of writing...everything curved, shaped, fitted--just so--to suit the subject. But there is no forced compartmentalization. Ideas from one essay spill over into another--and can be found swimming, quite freely, in a third. Those who demand strict obedience, straight lines, right angles, cleanliness, order, stability, sterility, etc., will be appalled. But those who despise totalitarianism will be overjoyed. ... Read more

68. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553569074
Catlog: Book (1994-10-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 24438
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

From the remarkable woman who spoke to our nation in her inaugural poem, here is a beautifully rendered series of inspirational reflections.

Maya Angelou speaks from the soul with the wisdom of a lifetime. In a voice that vibrates with strength and pierces with honesty, she serves up the essence of her thoughts about how spirit and spirituality move and shape her life; about service and grace and giving; about how she celebrates the spirit of her people and the earthy sensuality of the sisterhood. She talks about family, discusses how people have gone astray, and how they can move to regain the way. These are her lessons in living -- lessons from which we all can learn. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars The first book I ever read in one day
WOULDN'T TAKE NOTHING FOR MY JOURNEY NOW is conversational in tone and format. It is the first book I ever read in one day because, well, I couldn't put it down. I like Maya Angelou's perspective and refusal to compromise. I enjoyed learning about her multi-leveled life (this was the first book by Angelou that I have ever read, so it was my introduction to her life).

The passage I found most interesting in this book is where Maya says that she always takes a day off at least once a year to forget who she is. She said that she lets everyone know which day it is, and not to call her on that day. She takes a trip by bus or train, and if she runs into those she knows, she will avoid interacting with them. Maya recommends that everyone do something like this once a year, take a day just for themselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars I love Maya
This is my favorite of the books I've read in which Maya Angelou sits around contemplating life, though it's perhaps not the most representative of her work. For the moment she sets aside her intellectual self, her history, her issues -- anything by which you might identify her as anything but a fellow member of the human race. In this book you're left with the essential Maya -- the wise woman with the great heart and the steady mind who speaks out from timeless space. It's an easy read, and life feels better when you're done. And if you're at the end left in doubt whether she's also a world-wise and savvy intellect, then anything else she has written will put your doubts to rest.
I love Maya Angelou.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book for a woman
This is the best book that I have ever read. Every book she has wrote was great but this one is different. It is more unique and interesting. This book is about a black girl who was called a woman instead of something else. I really enjoyed learning about her multi-leveled life as I read this book. Maya Angelou is a wise woman that has a great talent and a beautiful heart. I recommend this book to any woman...

5-0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
When I picked out this book I knew it will be a very good book.The book was about a black girl who was glad to be called a women instead of a girl or something else. The author is one of my best writers ever MaYA Angelou. She was talking about how it feels to be called a women. I recommend this book 5 stars because i think it have been the best book i ever read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A guide book for life
This book is like food to my soul. Maya Angelou is poetic in her writting and her spirit flows from each page. I love this book! I have read and reread this book many times. It is a very easy read and a must for every woman. Her advise comes from a woman who knows pain, passion, and love. This is an advise book for living and offers strength to those in search of spiritual uplifting. When I read Maya's wise words it is like having a deep conversation with my great grandmother. I love this book! ... Read more

69. Against Interpretation : And Other Essays
by Susan Sontag
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312280866
Catlog: Book (2001-08-25)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 63185
Average Customer Review: 3.82 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

First published in 1966, this celebrated book--Sontag's first collection of essays--quickly became a modern classic, and has had an enormous influence in America and abroad on thinking about the arts and contemporary culture. As well as the title essay and the famous "Notes on Camp," Against Interpretation includes original and provocative discussions of Sartre, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious thinking. This edition features a new afterword by Sontag.
... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sontag's best book
To begin with: It is time for people to stop ranting about Ms. Sontag's opinions about 9-11. LET IT GO, PEOPLE! Shut up and read this book. It will open a whole world of art and ideas for you. You will discover a series of brilliant discussions of Sartre, Beckett, Claude Levi-Strauss, Godard, Robert Bresson, Michel Leiris, Alain Resnais and Norman O. Brown. Moreover, read and consider the famous essays "Against Interpretation," "On Style" and "Notes on Camp." In the end, you will find that these essays have greatly influenced your aesthetic sensibilities. You will also find yourself seeking out the works of the writers and filmmakers discussed in this book. What more can a reader ask for?

5-0 out of 5 stars To Life!
I'm currently writing a paper that incorporates some of Sontag's ideas in both "Against Interpretation" and "On Style" - the two most polemic of the essays in this collection. It's very dificult, however, to condense these essays down to a couple concepts, or draw a couple of quotes out of them. Each time I read these essays - perhaps because I feel such a connection with the ideas - I find myself underlining virtually half the articles.

The one place I see Sontag going off is in promoting to noveau roman, and the fiction of writers like Robbe-Grillet. For one, writers who try to negate all the content from their work often merely reinforce to the critic the distinction between form and content. And two, a piece of art doesn't need to be experimental to have formal elegance. I think Sontag was promoting too many new wave artists, like Burroughs. Recently she has been writing novels similar to the nineteenth century style, which suggests that she's overcome whatever qualms she may have had with ominscent narrators like Tolstoy.

1-0 out of 5 stars propoganda
Susan Sontag is a brilliant propagandist. Propaganda is her forté. With that in mind, and also keeping in mind that she's an anti-white racist, one can read her writings and appreciate the brilliance of the "bait" - what she uses to lure us into her web.

1-0 out of 5 stars A cancer on the human species
No matter how many essays and books Ms. Sontag writes that have quality, they are the sheep's clothing of a genuine cancer. She is brilliant at inserting her political agenda into her writings, and that agenda is anti-west and very destructive. Her strategies are not always easy to detect, but very effective.

5-0 out of 5 stars Susan Sontag's first bunch of essays.
This is historically the first delivery of the now world-renowned essays by Susan Sontag. Mrs Sontag considers herself primarily a novelist: and,of course, she has every right to do so, but I have the feeling that her novels do not come near in any way to her essays' quality.
In this batch, which is arguably her most famous one, although probably not her best, you can feel all young Sontag's vigour and fire. She is often far nastier in tone than in her later works. She tears to pieces John Gielgud's staging of Hamlet, Gyorgy Lukacs's literary criticism, calls George Steiner "superficial"(!), and destroys contemporary American novelists (they're obsessed with "content" intended as a discussion of moral issues).
The most beautiful piece in this collection are probably the "Notes on Camp". Camp is something which should not be either too beautiful or too ugly; it moves the "connaisseur" because, through its outdated or timelessly ridiculous exterior, it can be felt as the product of an earnest endeavour, a result of the investment of human passion.
Some other essays are more superficial than accustomed, and in the Preface, Sontag aknowledges that she maybe could have taken away some, which were written as simple reviews for magazines. But we can still find the characteristic quality of Sontag's "writing" (meaning "écriture" as defined by Roland Barthes, for those who follow...); an endless redefining, putting into perspective each word or concept introduced, which means that really everything is left in suspence and subject to caution, pointing towards new research to be done. ... Read more

70. The Riverside Milton
by John Milton, Roy Flannagan
list price: $80.76
our price: $80.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0395809991
Catlog: Book (1998-02)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Sales Rank: 98619
Average Customer Review: 3.29 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

The first one-volume anthology of John Milton's complete poetry and selected prose to be published in over 30 years, The Riverside Milton reflects the highest quality and most current scholarship. As editor of The Milton Quarterly for 30 years, Roy Flannagan is uniquely qualified to survey Milton's work. Outstanding pedagogy includes a comprehensive index designed to help students from undergraduate to graduate levels conceive paper topics; factual introductions; extensive annotations with references; margin definitions; and a chronology, dedicated and general bibliographies.

... Read more

Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars poor Milton
Interest in Milton has waned in American universities, and I can't help but think that THE RIVERSIDE MILTON tossed him into an eternity more boring than anything his prose could have ever created.

I understand that this text is "academic" so its asinine price and density are justified. Yet Flannagan has taken scholasticism to the extreme, sacrificing all for footnotes in a mad zeal to, like the old Welsh poets, show off his research. Thus this book's perfect audience comprises graduate pedants lost in footnote fogs, loving every minute of brilliant insights like, "This comma was omitted in the 1676 Edition." A high disappointment, especially since THE RIVERSIDE CHAUCER is very, very strong. But still, THE RIVERSIDE MILTON'S not a total waste (the introductions are well written and often insightful).

Other reviewers have already identified the problems with so many footnotes, so I won't rehash. I'll just add my frown amongst many others and continue reading Milton elsewhere.

2-0 out of 5 stars I will not use this text again
I find this edition impossible for classroom use and, after this semester, I will not use it again. I wish the venerable Hughes edition was available and affordable: somebody should reissue it if it is going out of print, as it remains the better textbook.

Here are my complaints:

*The prose is riddled with what seem to me to be small typos--I'm not talking about orginal spelling, but about things like "buy" for "but" (p. 937) and so on. There is one of these every 2-3 pages on average, and this is just too many.

*Some of the notes seem designed not to assist undergraduate readers but to demonstrate the editor's grasp of secondary scholarship. Why else would a note to _Comus_ direct readers to Leah Marcus and NOT also offer succinct remarks about the controversy surrounding Sports and mirth? What good is a note like that to the average undergraduate reader?

*The notes are so frequently about minor textual issues--the kind of thing that can go in an appendix and that undergrads are unlikely to care about--that students after a while stop looking at them altogether. That does not help anybody.

*The notes--especially to the prose--do not supply anything like the kind of necessary information that any classroom text should provide. This text does not identify the scriptural passages Milton cites, etc. For example, when Milton refers to a "covnant" in Tenure of Kings and Magistrates and/or The Readie and Easie Way, students need a note about The Solemn League and Covenant, but there is no such thing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to second printing
This up-to-date edition of Milton's complete poetry and major prose fills the urgent need for a successor to the venerable student's edition Merritt Hughes prepared half a century ago (now, alas, out of print).

One outstanding virtue of the Riverside Milton is its editor, Roy Flannagan. Flannagan is remarkably responsive to readers' comments, which he promises to take into account in the preparation of future editions (the first of which is said to be in press as of this writing). Unfortunately, a revised edition of the book is instantly needed. In its first printing, the Riverside Milton is badly marred by the absence of a table of contents to the poems and of indices to titles and first lines. Without these helps, it is impossible to find the shorter pieces without a considerable amount of page-turning--and difficult to justify giving the book more than three stars.

Some will be delighted to find that Flannagan has mixed textual notes with substantive ones at the bottom of the page; others (including, I suspect, most undergraduates) will find the mixture irritating, and will resent all the extra head-bobbing between text and annotations. Unexceptionable, I believe, is Flannagan's decision to preserve Milton's 17th-century spelling and punctuation, which greatly facilitates scanning the lines and reading them aloud.

As for the substance of the substantive notes, I believe it generally to be sound, though a handful of glosses seem far fetched and little worth. For example, in commenting upon how "Smiles . . . love to live in dimple sleek" ("L'Allegro," lines 28-30), Flannagan tells us that "Smiles do live in dimples, and dimples live in smooth (youthful) or sleek and plump faces. Also, a personified Smile lives in a dimple the way that a fairy in Midsummer Night's Dream may live in a flower."

As it now stands, the Riverside Milton is a work more of promise than of perfection. Those interested in purchasing the text should wait until the second printing is available, since it will contain the table of contents needed for the book to be truly usable.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Riverside Milton, yet once more . . .
Flannagan's update of Hughes is a trailblazing piece of editorial history, one written, formatted, finalized, and agonized over almost exclusively by the author in his home study, and provided as camera-ready copy in short order to a publisher whose timelines were, to put it mildly, ambitious.

As such, it carries all of the idiosyncratic flaws of any new approach to an old methodology, but with a decidedly cutting-edge twist: Prof. Flannagan makes the first attempt I'm aware of in scholarly publication to engage the reader interactively in improvement of the product, in that the Introduction provides the editor's e-mail address, and asks the reader to submit questions/comments/suggestions directly to the source, as he or she sees fit.

Prof. Flannagan has as a result already made a number of positive changes to an edition whose aim is not to dazzle the accomplished Milton scholar with its editor's erudition (Fowler's achievement enjoys that reputation unchallenged), but to entice and intrigue and support and encourage the relative newcomer to Milton studies. I am aware that The Riverside Milton is evolving and growing and reaching an even greater level of refinement and usefulness even as I write this review, becoming, not all things to all people, but the teaching and learning tool of its audience's desire. I too have a 30-year old copy of Hughes (as do most competent Milton scholars "of a certain age"), well-worn and frequently consulted . . . with the Riverside Milton at its side.

3-0 out of 5 stars This edition is inclusive but difficult to use
This is a solid and inclusive edition of Miltons poetry with some useful introductory materials. It lacks a useful table of contents, however, and individual poems are hard to find. The weight and quality of the book suggest quality, but the layout wastes a lot of real estate without being particularly more readable. The notes are at times informative, but at others partisan and opinionated. I've tried hard to like this book, but reach for my 30 yr old Hughes edition when I need to get something done and want to enjoy it. ... Read more

71. The Sweet Science
by A. J. Liebling
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374272271
Catlog: Book (2004-09-29)
Publisher: North Point Press
Sales Rank: 13508
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

A.J.Liebling's classic New Yorker pieces on the "sweet science of bruising" bring vividly to life the boxing world as it once was.It depicts the great events of boxing's American heyday: Sugar Ray Robinson's dramatic comeback, Rocky Marciano's rise to prominence, Joe Louis's unfortunate decline. Liebling never fails to find the human story behind the fight, and he evokes the atmosphere in the arena as distinctly as he does the goings-on in the ring--a combination that prompted Sports Illustrated to name The Sweet Science the best American sports book of all time.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read
Sportswriting is generally shlock. But A.J. Liebling was no sportswriter. Perhaps the finest reporter ever, certainly one of The New Yorker's shining lights, Liebling wrote with equal grace on the swaggering cons of Broadway, his misspent youth in pre-war Paris, blood pooled in a landing craft off Omaha Beach, just about anything that caught his sharp eye and florid pen. And because Liebling wrote what he loved, he also wrote boxing. Whether he was at an obscure club fight or a marquee bout, Liebling never saw his subjects as muscled automata. His boxers were people, every fight a story, and the stories collected in the Sweet Science form a classic work of sport that no cigar-chewing sports hack ever tossed on a wire. ... Read more

72. This I Believe : An A to Z of a Life
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400062462
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 33951
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant meditation on an author's passions
I first discovered Carlos Fuentes in college with The Death of Artemio Cruz and Where The Air is Clear and he has been a touchstone ever since. Although many of his subsequent novels have fallen short of my expectations, this autobiograophical collection of essays on a variety of subjects is intellectually engaging and insightful into the development of Fuentes the man and the author. A thousand stars! ... Read more

73. Campo Santo
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400062292
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 130552
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Great Enigma: History in Snapshots and Elegies
WG Sebald whose too early accidental death in 2001 is a much-lamented loss to the literary world he so quietly entered briefly before his demise.He is a unique writer, one whose style includes ramblings and crude snapshots of incidental places that support his strange tales.For many he is an acquired taste and only time will tell whether his honored books will withstand the test of immortality.And that fact is very much in keeping with the worldview of this enormously gifted observer of the human condition and the plight of the individual played against the backdrop of history and melancholy.

CAMPO SANTO is not a completely successful book in the manner of this highly praised novels.But the very fact that his early departure from the writing stream impacted readers to the point of wanting more justifies this aggregation of four chapters of a novel based on Corsica and multiple lectures and essays and addresses. The book opens with a fine essay by editor Sven Meyer, a timetable that introduces Sebald to readers unfamiliar with his odd life.The subsequent works are translated from the German by Sebald's longtime translator Anthea Bell.And that fact introduces one of the many odd quirks in Sebald's career: why should a man who spent the better part of his expatriation from his native Germany teaching in Englandwrite in German instead of his adopted language English?

Perhaps one reason lies in the focus of each of Sebald's works.His stories are travels and meanderings through various locations that serve as his platform for posing the question of history as memory, the unresolved restitution of Germany after WW II (a period he only knew from seeing the disastrous postwar results and reading the reflective works of other writers coping with the crossfire of guilt and sadness/remorse and anger - he was born in 1944), an the driving need to understand the role of mankind in the flux of a globe at unrest.

Reading the first four chapters of CAMPO SANTO makes us wish he had completed this novel about Corsica and the fascination with the life of Napoleon who was born there.But the saved fragments of this novel interrupted by his award-winning AUSTERLITZ are savory and contain many eloquent passages to assuage the reader longing for more.

The remaining essays and lectures are dense and more cerebral but for those Sebald addicts there is much to digest about his thoughts and philosophy.And for those readers especially this final book is a must for the library.Highly recommended.Grady Harp, May 05 ... Read more

74. The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays
by Caroline Knapp
list price: $24.95
our price: $15.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582433135
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Sales Rank: 71380
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars re: Ms. Knapps death
just an fyi.Ms. Knapp died in 2002,not 2001

5-0 out of 5 stars How she died
In answer to readers' questions about how Caroline Knapp died, she was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer in the spring of 2001 and died shortly thereafter. During the final weeks of her life, she married her longtime companion whom she talks about in her writings, and left Lucille in his loving care.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly educational
(...)Knapp's willingness to thoroughly examine herself and her demons-- drinking, anorexia-- has provided many of us with a precious resource and lifeline in dealing with our own troubles. Her insights on her relationship with her parents, and her close bond to her dog, provide the reader with thoughtful reflections on the nature of human connections.

4-0 out of 5 stars Why can't I find...
anything about HOW she died? I love this book and wish I had known her. Have found many references to her date of death but no mention of how. Anyone know? Thanks. Feel a bond as my middle name is Lucile...but I'm a cat person.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!
I love Caroline Knapp. I have read all of her books, including Drinking: A Love Story, despite not having any problems with alcohol.
These essays are insightful, poignant, and they wonderfully express emotions that everyone can connect with. Caroline Knapp wrote with humor and seemed to invest her whole soul into all of her writing.
I disagree with the reviewer who said that some of the lighter essays were out of place, each essay provided a broader look of the author and allowed me the connection of humor as well as other connecting on more serious levels.
I especially liked Lucille vs Stumpy, Letter to Zoe and Speaking out for shyness.
I believe that anyone who enjoys good writing, reflective thinking and has a sense of humor will enjoy these essays. ... Read more

75. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
by Sarah Vowell
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743223527
Catlog: Book (2002-09-05)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 168468
Average Customer Review: 4.26 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

In The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell travels through the American past and, in doing so, investigates the dusty, bumpy roads of her own life. In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell -- widely hailed for her inimitable narratives on public radio's This American Life -- ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? And, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot?

Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, themes, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration.

The result is a teeming and engrossing book, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary. ... Read more

Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars Vowell's Consonants
You may know Sarah Vowell from NPR's This American Life. Her quirky commentaries are the highlight of the show for me. This book is a wonderful distillation of those qualities into text. She writes in a conversational style that draws the reader into her world. Her essays cover various topics from Gettysburg to Tom Cruise to Tom Landry. Through all this, her particular brand of self-deprecating humor shines in all of them.

A self-proclaimed "civics nerd," this knowledge of politics feeds her world view. The centerpiece of this collection, "The Nerd Voice," is a twenty-plus-page look at the 2000 election, why Gore didn't win, and how she and her friends--all members of a web forum--felt about it. Upon noticing that Bob Dole is attending, seeing him comforts her in a way, and she feels he "symbolizes a simpler, more innocent time in America when you could lose the presidential election and, like, not actually become president."

She likens the presidential race to the proverbial Jock vs. Nerd battle from school. Gore was seen as too smart, so he must be taken down. She then notes that the reason Bush was not shot during the attack on the Oval Office was because he was not working, but was in the White House gym instead, exercising.

The title piece, "The Partly Cloudy Patriot," starts out as a review of the Mel Gibson film but metamorphoses into a commentary on the use of the word "patriot" following the events of September 11th and concludes with her views on the prevalence of flags, their symbolism, and why she doesn't want one stuck uninvited into her yard.

The collection is slightly uneven but that has to be expected from a collection whose only discernible theme is "America." What is here is a wonderful new view of the world around us; one that is insightful, pointedly funny, and should open your mind to see things in a different way--the Sarah Vowell way. After all, who else would list the numerous people who almost daily compare themselves to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and point out the insanity of it all?

4-0 out of 5 stars Embrace your inner (and outer) nerd!
Sarah Vowell is a nerd with passion, an intellectual who has every right to be cynical but can't help being a romantic. "The Partly Cloudy Patriot" is a nifty collection of opinionated essays that cover a startling range of subjects - politics, cinema, music, Salem, her own family.

It helps to imagine Sarah Vowell reading these essays to you - in fact, I'd recommend the audio book, because she brings the perfect dry timing to her prose. But even in print, this is fun stuff. I'm a big fan of her Al Gore essays (in which she likens the 2000 election to a classic "Nerds vs. Jocks" battle) and her travelogues. In fact, I like it all, even if her odd attempt at Larry Kingisms falls a little flat.

Best of all, Sarah manages to keep an open mind on all subjects. She doesn't apologize for her liberal views, but like a true liberal, she's able to see all sides of an issue and isn't above finding flaws in her own logic. She's also comfortable with herself and her own intelligence, which makes her essays all the more compelling. It's impossible to dislike Sarah, and "The Partly Cloudy Patriot" is a great installment from a talented and intriguing woman.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful/insightful/hysterical...
...need i say more? hmmmm...let's see...what else CAN i say...?

i love this book. sarah vowell is a brilliant young writer, with a biting sense of humor. this collection echoes (i suspect) the sentiments of many disillusioned americans (make that *millions*) who still wonder how in the wild, wild world of sports dubbya became president. beyond that, however, is a sweet and funny look into the heart of this talented woman as she takes us though some darn interesting moments in her coventional-yet-not-really-coventional upbringing.

she's funny.

she's smart.

she's ... funny and smart. hers is a voice that stands out in a sea of mediocre essayists. trust me, agree or disagree with her politics, you'll still enjoy her sense of history as it relates to our world today! : )

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Writing
Sarah Vowell's collection of essays entitled Partly Cloudy Patriot is a refreshing commentary from a liberal who actually thinks and can express herself rationally without sounding argumentative. Her opinions are well laid-out and she refrains from any of the typical mud-slinging that one would come to expect from a book with a political bent, which actually makes it easier to think about the things she is saying rather than trying to defend or justify one's own opinions. Wonderfully written and thought provoking, I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in recent political history but wants to avoid all of the childish bickering.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Partly Cloudy Patriot who writes like a clear day!
Sarah Vowell is a veteran of NPR and appears with regularity on "This American Life" hosted by Ira Glass. My wife and I spotted her on Book TV being enchanted by this iconoclastic liberal commentator on all things American.
In the tradition of Will Rogers, Mark Twain and all other true patriorts she humorously and wittily comments on such diverse subjects as National Parks, Canadian Life, a trip to
Gettysburg and relationships within her family.
Vowell is a gifted author whose pungent commentaires make this short book of essays a joy to read, savor and think about in the days ahead.
We live in a media age of talking heads but Vowell's "nerdy
noggin" as she may phrase it stands head and shoulders over many so called pundits of the politcal and cultural scene.
One would like to see Vowell become more visible on the cable talk show circuit.
This young lady thinks and causes us all to rethink our love of this land called America.
I recommend this book especially to young people who are bored with textbook histroy but still love America and want to know more about it. Vowell's book is an easy read which is not to be missed. Enjoy it! ... Read more

76. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays.
by Northrop Frye
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691069999
Catlog: Book (2000-09-25)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 21030
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Striking out at the conception of criticism as restricted to mere opinion or ritual gesture, Northrop Frye wrote this magisterial work proceeding on the assumption that criticism is a structure of thought and knowledge in its own right. In four brilliant essays on historical, ethical, archetypical, and rhetorical criticism, employing examples of world literature from ancient times to the present, Frye reconceived literary criticism as a total history rather than a linear progression through time.

Literature, Frye wrote, is "the place where our imaginations find the ideal that they try to pass on to belief and action, where they find the vision which is the source of both the dignity and the joy of life." And the critical study of literature provides a basic way "to produce, out of the society we have to live in, a vision of the society we want to live in."

Harold Bloom contributes a fascinating and highly personal preface that examines Frye's mode of criticism and thought (as opposed to Frye's criticism itself) as being indispensable in the modern literary world. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Most important work of literary theory in the 20th century
Whether you agree with him or not, there's no denying that Northrop Frye is the most important literary critic from North America-- and quite probably the most influential English- language critic of the 20th-century. His influence, I should add, is not limited to literary scholarship, but has been felt in other disciplines as well (e.g. Hayden White's classic historiographical study "Metahistory").

Although he's written many books on a host of specific subjects, "An Anatomy of Criticism" is Frye's magnum opus. In it, he outlines a general theory of literature-- what it is, how it is structured, and how it "works". These questions are answered in the volumes four essays, each of which approaches the subject from a different theoretical perspective: (1) a theory of modes", (2) a "theory of symbols", (3) a "theory of myths", and (4) a "theory of genres". Although these theories are not 100% unified into a larger structure, they are interrelated and complementary-- and, taken together, they do form what I believe can be called a (multifacted) "general theory of literature".

The book begins with a "Polemical Introduction". Here, Frye makes an argument that is at once simple and profound. For too long, he claims, literary criticism has revolved primarily around matters of taste, with critics pronouncing judgement on the relative merits of different authors and works. Frye believes that this has prevented literary criticism from really coming into its own as a serious scholarly activity-- and he wants to make literary scholarship a genuinely scholarly subject. The way to do this, he argues, is by eschewing any criticism whose goal is to attribute "merit" or "value" to works-- to say that they are good or bad. Instead, the true literary scholar needs to see himself as a scientist and to survey the field of literature as a whole, taking it on its own terms, and describing what seem to be the basic principles, structures, and unstated "laws" governing it. An important point here (and one that I think is especially compelling) is that Frye insists that literary scholarship needs to derive its understanding of literature from literature itself-- and not from other fields like psychoanalysis (e.g. Freudian/Jungian interpretations), from history (biograhical criticism), politics (Marxist criticism), etc. "An Anatomy of Criticism", Frye states, is his attempt to do just that-- to derive a theory of literature (or rather four complementary theories of literature) from literature itself, taking into account that literature, understood broadly, is work consisting primary of words, arranged in such a way as to create structures such as we call plots, characters, images, themes, etc.

In the first essay, the theory of modes, Frye articulates a theory of literature in terms of its level of realism, noting that this can exist in several degrees, which Frye expresses in terms of characters' relation of power to ordinary people and to the world. On the one extreme, we have myth, with gods who are nearly omnipotent, and on the other irony, with characters who are helpless and ineffectual. This is a short essay, and very readable, but is not as insightful as it could have been, if Frye had expanded it to discuss the mimetic level of the "world" in which the character exists as well.

The second essay is Frye's theory of symbols. It is, by far, the densest and most complicated of the four essays. It also has the most jargon, using lots of terms borrowed from Aristotelian and medieval criticism. Nonetheless, it is worth
reading, as Frye wrestles at length with question of what a symbol is, particularly within the context of literature. He also outlines the existence and workings of 5 different levels on which literary symbols work, raning from the literal (where individual words simply symbolize their mundane meanings) to the anagogic, which is an almost mystical level of symbolization-- a level that is more typically reserved for works of perceived religious or spiritually import (although Frye seems like he wants to acknowledge the possibility tha any work's symbols can be read on any of the five levels of symbolization).

The third essay is the "theory of myths". This is also the longest, and probably the most important essay here. Here, Frye outlines his theory that there are essentially four main plots, or "mythoi" (to use the Greek word for "plots") that literature uses-- comedy, romance, tragedy, and irony. Moreover, he notes, the various symbols, motifs, characters, and events that appear in all literary works can be understood within the context of a mythical opposition between a divine, ideal world (which he calls the "apocalyptic") and a demonic, nightmare world (which he calls "demonic). Contrary to what some folks believe, Frye does *not* use this to claim that literature is essentially "derived" from myths-- rather, he insists that those tales that we call myths simply present these structures in their clearest, baldest, most direct forms. In other forms of literature, the same structures exist, but they are displaced, toned down, or made incidental so as to fit into our basic canon of plausibility.

The fourth essay, the theory of genres, is perhaps the least successful of the four. Essentially, Frye seeks here to outline the difference among different types of literature (dramatic, lyric, epic, etc.) in terms of its performative aspect.

When all's said and done, it has to be said that Frye's book (now approx. 50 years old), is hardly the alpha and omega of literary criticism. Like all great books, it asks as many questions as it answers-- and like all general theories, it leaves the reader wondering whether it actually works for
all/most specific cases. And of course, there are many questions that aren't even discussed-- particularly about the world of non-western literature. Additionally, one wonders whether or not Frye's general theory can be expanded to include such basic aspects of literary interest as "style" and whether there is a place at all for biographical criticism within his
vision of what literary science could be. And of course, to someone reading this book today (a half-century after it was written), certain aspects of his argument and terminology may seem a bit outdated. Nonetheless, this is truly a milestone in literary theory and it is a standard by which other works have to be measured. If you haven't read this, I heartily recommend you do-- it may change the way you view literature as whole (for the better!). However, be warned-- this occasionally does get to be tough going (particularly essay 2). Those seeking a more 'accessible' version of Frye's ideas might turn to "The Educated Imagination"-- which waters them down a *lot* and leaves out a lot of the rigor and nuance-- but is still a passable introduction to the subject.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not only good for academics...
Northrop Frye provides you with structures common to Western literature, which is a great education.

Though he uses 'academic' examples- the applications of this knowledge are unlimited- and may allow you predict the ending of a movie as you watch it, or a good novel as you read it. And this knowledge will generally make that experience all the more enjoyable.

So once you've covered the basics of literary structure in the West, you'll be able to see 'new' structures as they come along- and understand them in the context of the old. That's fun.

The relevance of this book is limited to your imagination- if you accept it's general structural descriptions as accurate- you can 'literary' structure at work in politics, art, your favorite dumb movie, etc...

But if you take this excellent work as a manifesto of truth for all time, you'll write reviews like the name-dropping book tourist, which find Frye's work to be 'too Western' and limiting.

Well, I never went to college..but I know Catholicism, and it's all about righteous indignation..

Anyway, this book should be fun for you and your smart friends who wish to investigate literature from the standpoint of a loved hobby, or cultural metaphor.

A fun, creative, and lively read. Frye's got a sense of humor.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's dark in here.
You're in the bookstore and you've pulled this book off the shelf when the lights go out. You call out, "Anybody here read 'Anatomy of Criticism?' Clerks and customers volunteer opinions, some of them informed and well-meaning. Still, you wish you could read the darn blurbs.

These are from the back cover of my copy of 'Anatomy of Criticism:'

...simply overpowering in the originality of its main concepts, and dazzling in the brilliance of its applications of them. Here is a book fundamental enough to be entitled 'Principia Critica.' -- Vivian Mercier, 'Commonweal' attempt to give 'a synoptic view of the scope, theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism,' ...the book is continuously informed by original and incisive thought, by fine perception, and by striking observations upon literature in general and upon particular works. -- 'Modern Language Review'

Does literary criticism need a conceptual universe of its own? Professor Frye has written a brilliantly suggestive and encyclopedically erudite book to prove that it does; and he has done his impressive best to provide a framework for this universe. His book is a signal achievement; it is tight, hard, paradoxical, and genuinely witty... [Frye] is the most exciting critic around; I do not think he is capable of writing a page which does not offer some sort of intellectual reward.' -- Robert Martin Adams, 'Hudson Review'

This is a brilliant but bristling book, an important though thoroughly controversial attempt to establish order in a disorderly field. ...Mr. Frye has wit, style, audacity, immense learning, a gift for opening up new and unexpected perspectives in the study of literature... It would be hopeless to attempt a brief summary of Mr. Frye's dazzlingly counterpointed classifications.' -- Thomas Vance, 'The Nation'

The above were written in the mid-1950s when the book first came out. Reaction to 'Anatomy of Criticism' continues. Some readers are honked off by Frye's notion of looking at literature as if it were a particular world with its own structures. Frye worked to develop coherent ways of thinking about books that went beyond value judgements grounded in social fashion or individual taste. He hoped to get criticism away from bickering over rankings of "greatness" and pronouncements of worth based on political or religious criteria.

Some of Frye's critics say his approach to criticism isn't enough of a science -- that he's optimistic about human nature, and he sees entities and landscapes that aren't real. That's certainly true. Others say his approach isn't artistically appreciative enough, that he's incapable of enjoying a butterfly till he's gassed it and filed it in the proper drawer. That's certainly hooey. Frye was as delighted and informed and transformed by his reading as the rest of us. It's just that if he saw a great system of thought in, say, the work of poet William Blake, he went on to show the extent of this thought, revealing how Blake's work carried echoes from other works all the way back to the Old Testament, and how Blake's vision extended far ahead of him all the way to Rimbaud's hell and Rilke's angels, Kafka's castle and James's ivory tower, Yeats's vortices and Proust's hermaphrodites, Eliot's dying god and Joyce's Finnegan. But this is becoming a review of Frye's 'Fearful Symmetry.'

I like Northrop Frye because he reminds me that literature can do more than report life with embellishments. The human imagination, and literature in particular, tells us not just what humanity is but what it can be, giving us the same bogus pitch over and over, outlining the impossible, appealing to our deepest wishes and fears, pulling us up by our bootstraps till we want to get up out of the mire and walk on water -- even to the point we begin devising ways of doing it. 'Anatomy of Criticism' is an effort to help us know what we get from reading literature and to show us it is knowledge we can do something with.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mantra of the Clich¿
What ever your college teacher has told you, imaginative literature is not about ideas and opinions. Collapsible soapboxes have nothing to do with art. But sensitivity, sensual quality, lucidity of image and thought, fantasy, and diction have everything to do with it. It is a mode of perception and representation, the highest form to interface with the world as it presents itself to the author. In the beginning was the word, style and composition are the essence and grand ideas are merely functional props to propel a story or the poetry.

Yes, there is an element of gratuity, of something transcending the merely utilitarian; great books need no external referent, they are alternative worlds in their own right. It is the critic's task to unlock these worlds and outfit the reader with the right gear for his own journey of discovery. It is not the critic's task to be the surrogate reader who substitutes his own generalizations for all the so lovingly crafted details a good writer has put into his work. The Nobel-laureate Joseph Brodsky maintained that language and literature are more ancient and inevitable than any form of social organization. But there is such a thing as development and evolution, even in the arts. To define literature basically as a myth-building activity is a tat one-sided.

In fact it was never really true: Homer dealt with the facts and fantasies of a bygone era in the fashion of his own period. And when Aristotle in his poetics mentions the word "myth," he simply means "story." Ours is the age of science, and art ahead of its time, always complies to current standards of scientific enquiry. The specific detail, the significant trifle, a disdain for generalities, attention to subtleties, curiosity for what lays beyond the mythological paradigm - these are the hallmarks of genuine art and indicative of quality.

From 1984 to 1992 I lived in China, almost completely disconnected from the Western world. When I came home I realized that I had some catching up to do. For instance the bookshops reserved separate shelf-space for "Gay & Lesbian," "Women's Fiction," and even something labeled as "New Age" - a term which seemed to have cropped up straight from Huxley's "Brave New World." I soon learned that it meant something very different and I also saw that the late Northrop Frye, would have fitted in splendidly in this new age of bogus spirituality, bogus science, and bogus academia. In fact his disciples have made it all the way to Hollywood. Today every film-script submitted is gauged by its compliance with the mythological structure that underlies the "Wizard of Oz." Wow!

Mr. Frye attempted to establish a sort of Cabala for the critical profession. He declared to ascribe to the laudable premise that the principles of criticism must arise from an empirical study of the texts themselves. But Frye was never really interested in what an author himself has to say. In fact he thought it ok to ignore authors altogether: never mind how carefully Proust has crafted his subtle structure of counter points and hidden references, never mind how original a multi-layered temperament may reflect on its perception - this is just "lifeless text," we got to stuff the pastry, give me "proto-generic forms," give me archetypes and ideas! Shakespeare didn't mean to say that? In fact he wouldn't even have a clue what you are talking about? Who cares?! This is an exercise for our academic society of mutual masturbation. Not for people interested in Kafka.

So in Frye's scheme of things, Montaigne, or Marcel Proust, by default, wither on the fringes. So do Flaubert, Dos Passos, (is he actually mentioned at all?) Auden, T.S.Eliot, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov - even Cervantes squeezes in only with difficulties. "What's the use?" you ask, when you wrestle with deadlines and the daily task of 3000 printable words. Frye utterly lacks application. Armed with nothing but his typology you will never be able to recognize a talent when you see it. But of course if all you aspire is a parasitic career in academia on the bones of already dead poets - Mr. Frye is the man. Consequently, Frye summarily dismissed as insufficient and individualistic any honest effort to open a reader's mind to the specifics of a text. In his view, a long tradition of critical appreciation, which began with Longinus and found in Nabokov its most vociferous advocate, has barely a right to exist. Frye was a pigeonholer. He wanted to classify and label. For him the world of literature since Aristotle hadn't moved an inch. When Frye divided his essay in four sections on "historical," "ethical," "archetypical," and "rhetorical" criticism, or modes, symbols, myths, and genres, he made it look as if he deals with matters of great complexity, but it always comes down to the most general, i.e. emptiest, denominator. Not that he was always wrong: You can safely take home his explanation for the suspension of disbelief as an imaginative stipulation - comparable to a scientific hypothesis - which the actual novel then puts to the test. Mr. Frye was neither stupid nor did he lack a certain turn of phrase. But in total this amounts to small change.

A man of genius is able to frame this whole book in one aphorism. In "Kafka and his Precursors" Jorge Luis Borges showed how it is done and made the point that all this classifying is a product of hindsight. Suppose Kafka had died in his cradle, then nobody would ever see what Kierkegaard, Browning and Melville have in common. Good writing begins where the cliches end. Mr. Frye's book is a glorified "Anatomy" of literary cliches. People seem still to build academic careers on this [stuff], and college teachers continue to regurgitate these "illuminations" to their students. It boggles your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars indespensible for anyone who thinks about literature
I spend quite a lot of time thinking about literature and analyzing it myself and was very attracted to ideas about myths and archetypes. Reading Frye was a constant journey of "I almost knew that!" and "I knew that, but I didn't KNOW that I knew it!" The book turned around and cleared up my thinking about literature. In my literature class the day after I started to read this book, I felt myself bursting with excitement and the new understanding I had just through looking at a play within its "mode" of literature and its broader literary category. Frye's theory is comprehensive and unified, clearly explained and illustrated, and perfectly sensible. It fails to have practical application only if the reader's understanding isn't complete enough to allow him to apply it for himself to the works he is studying. ... Read more

77. Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan
list price: $29.50
our price: $29.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0974199508
Catlog: Book (2004-08)
Publisher: Chin Music
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Tired of being fed stereotypes about Japan from the mass media? Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan fills that void, bringing you stories from the front line of expat life as well as penetrating exposes of native Japanese life that go way beyond the cliches.

Kuhaku includes stories on everything from taking out the garbage to cheating on your spouse; an irreverent and informative glossary of real-world Japanese terms; plus, artwork that includes Warholian cans of coffee, tofu creatures running amok and a Zen whiskey priest who would make Graham Greene proud. ... Read more

78. Essays of E. B. White (Perennial Classics)
by E. B. White
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060932236
Catlog: Book (1999-06-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 23477
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time. ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Art of the Essay
Most folks will know E.B. White as the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, or as the eminently practical voice of reason in The Elements of Style. However, White was also an accomplished essayist, turning out pieces for The New Yorker and Harpers on a regular basis for many years.

What I like about White's essays is that they can be counted on to be insightful, amusing and well-written. White approaches an essay like a pleasant conversation. He's been thinking about New York and its inhabitants, he will tell you, and this what he's come up with. On another occasion it may be the personality quirks of his old dachshund Fred, or the controversy over white versus brown eggs. Anything and everything is food for thought, although you can be sure that White will broaden the scope of his topics to include the world at large. New York, he concludes, is a concentrated version of many worlds, "...bringing to a single arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader, and the merchant." Fred, the dachshund, was "...the Cecil B. deMille of dogs. He was a zealot, and I have just been reminded of him by a quote from one of the Democrats..." And the white versus brown egg debate, White concludes, is simply a matter of what you're used to. Personally he prefers brown, and can recommend the egg of the Silver Cross, whose egg is " richly brown, so wondrously beautiful as to defy description."

Best of all, White's insightful commentary does not require intense concentration or endless analysis to get the gist of what he is trying to say. You can sit back and relax when you pick up a book of his essays, knowing you won't have to grapple with unfamiliar or awkward language. This is not to imply that you won't find yourself thinking about what he has to say. It's just that his approach is so matter-of- fact, easy going and accessible that you feel you've been invited to tea or are taking a leisurely stroll as the essay unfolds. I read White's essays the way some people read mysteries or romance novels. They are entertaining without being too demanding, and are a great way to set day-to-day concerns aside. Treat yourself to a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars MAGNIFICENT ESSAYS
I never read E.B. White as a child although all of my friends were very much into "Charlotte's Web" and "The Trumpet of the Swan." Perhaps it was because the only other Stuart I'd ever heard of was White's mouse/hero with the last name Little...a fact that my schoolmates teased me with throughout grade school.


White has got to be one of the finest writers I've ever read, expressing in 5 graceful words what it takes others paragraphs to do. His descriptions of life in Maine are priceless for anyone, like me, who has longed to let the country boy deep down inside sit back and "smell the roses." And,of course, Maine is still one of the few places in the U.S. that is relatively city poison-free.

Read White's opening sentence in his brilliant "Here Is New York" which is, arguably, the best appreciation of this all-too-crazy city: "On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." Where did he write those words? " a stifling hotel room in 90-degree heat, halfway down an air shaft, in midtown." At the end of this wonderful, wonderful essay (which, by the way has been re-printed, all by itself, in a beautifully illustrated paperback) White contemplates an old Willow tree in the Turtle Bay area and he writes, "This must be saved,this particular thing, this very tree. If it were to go, all would go--this city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death."

What other essayist expresses his thoughts and ours so unself-consciously, so economically and, yes, so magnificently? None that I have come across. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterful and wonderful and delightful
Too bad there is/was only one E. B. White; too bad he couldn't have lived for ever. He will always remain as one of the best American essayists while at the same time continuing to earn acclaim for several other books that will always stay in print: childhood classics Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, as well as the newer edition of Elements of Style.
But his essays! Oh, they are so good, so rambling and thoughtful and gently pointed, many humorous while still making a deep and important impression. Anyone who strives to write good prose must read these essays to find out how a master did it and made it look easy. The first one in this volume, Death of a Pig, could serve as a lesson in How to Write.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Model
And even if you aren't a "writer's writer" or a literature type, you will appreciate this collection. It will mostly make you wish we still had White. His "This is New York" is astonishing if only for its timeliness. In fact last September 11th I posted the an excerpt from it on one of my discussion groups. If you are an American Studies type, especially -- meaning that you are interested in what our culture looked like and cared about in the middle of this century -- this is the place to start.

4-0 out of 5 stars Awesome
E.B. White's essays astounded me. My English teacher recommended them. I wasn't expecting prose of such rural vitality and simplicity. The group of essays under The Farm heading are a cry against urbanity. Instead of viewing everything as a commodity, he whispers emphatically a la Stein, "a rose is a rose is a rose." Throughout he has an eye for the sublimely trivial and the transcendence of Nature. Modernity is as barren as its aseptic kitchen counters.
The Thoreau influence is quite obvious, except for the causticity and spirituality which hasn't entered White's writing.
There is also the same sense of loss as in Thoreau's A Week...But it is a sense of loss with a quiet humanity that mitigates the seriousness. He doesn't avoid painful issues, unusual in our society.
He also never gets caught up in the wrongness of the world. At his most vituperative he is like a father correcting a wayward son. There is much to be learned from his simple yet profound wisdom. Excellent writing that I would recommend for anyone that reads. ... Read more

79. Uh-Oh
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804111898
Catlog: Book (1993-08-04)
Publisher: Ivy Books
Sales Rank: 116145
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

"Uh-oh" is more than a momentary reaction to small problems."Uh-oh" is an attitude -- a perspective on the universe.The #1 Bestseller by the author of ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN.

... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fulghum rules
After a great many funny and hearthwarming books, Fulghum strikes back again with Uh-Oh. Fulghum style again. It's simple: if you hate this style, you hate this book. If you love it -like I do- you'll love this book. Memories and musings of an every-day-life-philosopher who does not take things for granted. Maybe you never thought about fireflies or the true meaning of cinderella fairytales, but it's a great journey to travel with one who does. It takes you to roads you've never been before. I'd say: buy it, and have a good trip!

5-0 out of 5 stars a very worthwhile read
First, let me say that I read this book in one day, which is a feat in itself with my short attention span. And when I was finished, I honestly felt sad that it was over. Second, I'm not one to take the time to review books online, but this is one that is worthy of all the praise I can give it. This book is fantastic. It's the best book I've read in a long while. One moment, Fulghum is making you ponder some very deep subjects, and the next, he's got you laughing those really good, healthy belly laughs that are so few and far between. His insight on so many ordinary subjects is astounding. You will find yourself relating to some of the stories and touched or delighted by the others. My mother encouraged me to read this, and I've encouraged everyone I know to read it. Get this book. It's really worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars How can I describe this work?
Imagine, if you will a Sunday evening, with everybody still in their church clothes after having eaten a delicious Sunday dinner. Everyone's sort of lazily sated and they all meet on the porch to hang out for a while: they wave and smile at neighbors passing by, perhaps they bask in the evening sunset. Then, someone let's out the loudest, longest burp. Making every one burst out laughing...that's a bit how Fulghum's book on everyday observations, inspirations from happy accidents, and the many, many people he has run into is like. Some of the stories are tenderhearted like his experiencing culinary delights (Jelly Bellys in Cheerios) with a grand child or his gaining a reluctant love of a neighbor's ol' dawg. Other stories are of the making lemonade out of lemons type...a good, good cigar gets swiped by someone who perhaps appreciated it more...the bride is plagued with hiccoughs in the middle of the wedding ceremony....old VFWer's crash their pals' funeral with an anemic 10 gun salute and a stripper...all done in Fulghum's easy-does-it style. Do I like the book? Of course I do. Does it make me smile? You bet. My only problem is waiting long enough to forget all about the book and how much I love it, so that I can read it again like a 'new book' and enjoy it some more....does that sound like a Fulghum scenario to you? Anyway, get it and read it one lazy Sunday afternoon. You will thank me for the suggestion.

5-0 out of 5 stars I fell asleep with this book clutched in my arms
Amazing...I didn't want it to end. It opened a new fronteer of book reading in my life. It changed me. This man, Fulghum, packs so much emotion into his words. How I wish I could live like him, or at least write like him. Definintely inspritional and touching and funny. I can't say it enough! Read it! Nothing out there compares to Fulghum's sensitivity about everything in life. I don't know how to say it any other way. If I had even half as much truth and insight as this author has, I would be happy.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lighthearted and Fun
Though not nearly as terrific as his KINDERGARTEN book, Uh-Oh is a great read. Fullugham has some unique perspectives. This is a terrific book that can be savored a few pages at a time. The included essays are often funny, sometimes touching, and always enjoyable. The way the authour looks at the commonplace, and then bestows it with a sense of wonder has brought me back to Mr. Fullgham's books on a number of occassions. Read one and you'll be hooked. ... Read more

80. A Jacques Barzun Reader: Selections from His Works
by Jacques Barzun, Michael Murray
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066210194
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Sales Rank: 226967
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book, like Barzun himself, gets better with age!
Like too many others, my journey to becoming a Barzun addict was a slow, steady build. Yes, it was through first reading 'From Dawn to Decadence' that I came to admire his electrifying prose and sparkling wit. And his books on culture and gosh, man!

So there I was in the neighborhood bookstore and I see a brand spankin' new Barzun reader. Since I read in tangents, the format seemed a bit scattered but I bought it, knowing that I would always, no matter what tangent I was on, find something of interest in this volume.

I couldn't have been more right!! I've had the book for, maybe, nine months now and I'm STILL finding, savoring and rereading these excerpts. So many topics covered- from baseball to Berlioz, crime-fiction to higher education, race to romanticism. These days, whenever someone writes about so many subjects, there's always a suspicion that we, the readers, will find ourselves slighted- how can one person actually EXCEL in so many areas and still retain quality and grace. Barzun is a stunning example of someone who can and if you're anything like me (not reading all the way through, but reading each exerpt as it strikes your fancy), this book will rank on your 'most rewarding purchases' list

5-0 out of 5 stars Jacques, we hardly knew ye!
Michael Murray, editor of "A Jacques Barzun Reader," has compiled a beautifully varied collection of the great cultural historian's essays -- many of which even we hardcore Barzun admirers have never read & never thought we'd have the chance to read. For example, Barzun's provocative distinction between the "craft" of criticism & art in literature is a seldom-seen essay, & shed light on an aspect of Barzun's thinking that was unknown to me.

Is the book too small? I don't know -- perhaps any such compilation of Barzun's extraordinary & humane writing would be too small, too exclusive. These essays are (presumably) Murray's choices, & I have no quarrel with them per se. But where are other long-treasured & fascinating Barzun essays, such as "James the Melodramatist" or a thoughtful (& negative) critique he wrote decades ago on Eric Partridge's "Usage & Abusage"?

I begin to see that, in fact, a complete collection of Barzun's written work -- all seven or eight decades of it -- is called for. It would, of course, require numerous volumes. "A Jacques Barzun Reader" is an excellent start. I am happy to learn from the dust jacket that Michael Murray is writing a biography on Barzun.

A minor cavil with Murray's method: He chose not to footnote or otherwise indicate his alterations to Barzun's original text for a fairly sensible reason. However, I found myself wondering just which passages or what information was omitted from the reprint of various essays in the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bite-Sized Barzun!
Barzun is one of the best thinkers of our time. It is great to have his thoughts on so many subjects assembled in this collection.

It is especially valuable since some of Barzun's most famous commentaries (for example, on baseball) are now out of print and hard to find. Buy this book, you will profit from having it on your bookshelf!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book for Three Kinds of Readers
This book may serve as an ancilla to Barzun's masterpiece From Dawn to Decadence, as a calmative for those upset by what they take to be Barzun's adverse criticism of subjects dear to them, and as a portable treasury of Barzun's writings - some of them never before published or hard to obtain. The first and third of these uses will be apparent to anyone who glances at the table of contents or samples some of the essays. The second use might be hinted at by quoting Barzun's comments on Complaint and Criticism from the selection "Science and Scientism," which Michael Murray's helpful bibliography tells us is taken from Barzun's 1964 book Science: The Glorious Entertainment:

"Criticism as I understand it differs entirely from attack or complaint. Its difference from complaint is especially important here, for I am persuaded that complaints against the machinations of culture today have become as poisonous as the things complained of. This is not surprising. Resentment and indignation are feelings dangerous to the possessor and to be sparingly used. They give comfort too cheaply; they rot judgment, and by encouraging passivity they come to require that evil continue for the sake of the grievance to be enjoyed.

"Criticism, on the contrary, aims at action. True, not all objects can be acted on at once, and many will not be reshaped according to desire; but thought is plastic and within our control, and thought is a form of action. To come to see, in the light of criticism, a situation as different from what it seemed to be, is to have accomplished an important act."

A Jacques Barzun Reader is a book for readers of Barzun, would-be readers of Barzun, and readers who have never liked Barzun. A treat for all these three kinds of readers are the few pages of verse at the end of the book. Readers ignorant of Barzun should start with a book of his on a subject they are interested in.

Since Mr. Murray, who is writing a biography of Barzun, no doubt worked with Barzun on the book, both his Introduction and the selections must have a certain authority for anyone interested in the inimitable JB. ... Read more

61-80 of 200     Back   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20
Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.