More often appreciative and ruminative than critical—but that’s OK.

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ALL ART IS PROPAGANDA

CRITICAL ESSAYS

The second of two volumes of the British author’s essays, compiled by journalist George Packer.

Orwell the critic is not quite the equal of his counterpart, the chronicler of people, places and political occurrences and institutions. Still, this somewhat uneven volume offers four superlative examples of this consummate realist’s keen scrutiny of cultural touchstones and trends, milestones and minutiae. “Charles Dickens” is a long, heartfelt tribute that nevertheless eschews sentimentalizing the ultimate sentimentalist. Contrasting Dickens’s fiction and reportage with similar work from fellow Victorians (e.g., Thackeray, Trollope, Charles Reade), Orwell painstakingly identifies the sources and the enduring strengths of Dickens’s indomitable humanitarian sensibility and stubborn sense of social responsibility. “Inside the Whale” evaluates Henry Miller’s renegade masterpiece Tropic of Cancer as a cheeky response to 19th-century rustic idealism, and a groundbreaking dramatization of the impact of expatriate experience on modern prose style. A penetrating comparison of two very different literary masters (“Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool”) interprets the Russian author’s criticism of Shakespeare as expressive of “the quarrel between the religious and the humanist attitudes towards life.” Then there’s the great 1945 essay “Politics and the English Language.” In ringing tones that ought to shame every public figure who plays fast and loose with verifiable fact, Orwell gathers apropos anecdotal evidence of the manipulative imprecision of political language at its most recklessly dishonest, concluding, with soulful brevity and wit, that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” Elsewhere, he casts a skeptical eye on Salvador Dali’s puckish amorality and Gandhi’s hard-won saintliness, finds low-brow entertainment value in the work of a smutty postcard artist and asks uncomfortable questions about hopeful utopian visions (“Can Socialists Be Happy?”).

More often appreciative and ruminative than critical—but that’s OK.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-101355-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

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

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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