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Notes on Current Books, Summer 1980

ISSUE:  Summer 1980

On the worst day of fighting over the southeastern part of England, 68 British and 69 German aircraft plunged to earth in flames. The slim margin of “victory” for the British was symbolic. Western freedoms hung by a thread in that glorious late summer, with its maddeningly good weather, and in the days before push-button warfare, a handful of men could justly assume that the fate of nations depended upon their actions. Mr. Price has tracked down survivors, studied the records in both countries, and the result is a very fine book.

The Politics of Justice: Lower Federal Judicial Selection and the Second Party System, 1829—1861, by Kermit L. Hall. Nebraska $19.50

This is a painstakingly researched, richly detailed study of judicial recruitment in its historical context. Nothing like it has ever been written before. Hall not only describes the changing selection process in the context of a changing party structure but also provides a profile of the period’s 240 federal judges. It is good as political history, as prosopography, and as institutional analysis. Political scientists and middle-period historians will find the book to be dull but rewarding reading.

The End of the Russian Imperial Army: The Old Army and the Soldiers’ Revolt (March-April 1917), by Allan K. Wildman. Princeton $25

Denied access to Soviet archives in the preparation of this first of a planned two volumes, Mr. Wildman has used the known sources to reconstruct the disintegration of the army of Nicholas II in a more complete manner than earlier writers. Concentrating naturally enough upon events in Petrograd, he also includes a long chapter, the best in the book, on the situation at the Front. As the Army went, so went the autocracy. We have always known this, but this volume helps us understand the mechanics better.

Repealing National Prohibition, by David E. Kyvig.Chicago $21

There are few events in American constitutional and political history as fascinating as Prohibition and its subsequent repeal. Surprisingly, this is the first comprehensive study of it. While no doubt intended for an audience of historians, this volume lacks an overly professional tone and will make good reading for scholar and layman alike. At a time when proposed amendments abound, one would do well to take a glance at the enthusiasm of an earlier age. The lessons of the past are sobering.

The Huguenot Struggle for Recognition, by N.M. Sutherland. Yale $25

Paris may have been worth a mass to Henry IV, but an address there was an invitation to a massacre for the Huguenots in 1572. The bloodshed of St. Bartholomew’s Night does not form the centerpiece of this rather turgid account of Protestantism in France from 1521 to 1598; but it looms constantly in the background, and ultimately the reader is inclined to feel cheated at being deprived of an account of it. The Protestants fought not only the Catholics but also—and for this they would die—the Catholic king, and that meant they fought France. It was an heroic but impossible struggle.

Hungary, the Great Powers, and the Danubian Crisis, 1936—1939, by Thomas L. Sakmyster. Georgia $20

Since there was no Hungary as Hungary, sovereign and independent, for centuries before 1919, it would seem a bit unreasonable for Hungarians to claim that their country was shabbily treated at Versailles. After all, something is better than nothing, and the Versailles settlement created Hungary. But Magyar nationalists did not see things that way, and they constantly agitated for territory awarded to Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. The rise of Hitler gave the more short-sighted among them the opportunity they had sought; and by backing Hitler in the 1930’s, they brought Stalin to their hearths in 1945. Hitler departed; Stalin, his legacy, remains. Mr. Sakmyster tells the story of the Hungarians in the last crucial years of the 1930’s with flair, sympathy, and great talent.

Discovering America, 1700—1875, by Henry Savage, Jr. Harper & Row $17.95

This is an old-fashioned narrative history that tries to convey what explorers, naturalists, and ethnologists “discovered” about America as they uncovered its geography, natural resources, flora, fauna, and native inhabitants. Selecting travelers who traversed the Appalachians, crossed the Mississippi watershed, the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the Sierras to the Pacific and whose writings, paintings, and governmental reports were published, thus having an impact on their own times, Savage tells an interesting but familiar story. The narratives of John Lawson, Lewis and Clark, Pike, Fremont, Powell, the fur traders, painters Audubon and Catlin, among others, are hardly unknown (and are presented in other volumes in this series). What Savage fails to show is the impact that their discoveries had upon their contemporaries, the obvious intent of the volume. Nevertheless, it is an easily read, tightly written, vibrant book.

Young Russia: The Genesis of Russian Radicalism in the 1860’s, by Abbott Gleason. Viking $16.95

Since the American discovery of Russian history in the first Cold War, no decade of the Russian past has so excited historians as that of the 1860’s. The reasons become obvious upon the briefest examination: there were “Berkeleys” in Moscow and St. Petersburg and other university cities, and the cry of “Up against the wall!” was, in its Russian variant, on the lips of many students. For all the American interest in that remarkable decade, American scholarship has not really produced a single significant work. Mr. Gleason’s book, badly researched and carelessly written, is no exception.

The Presidency of Andrew Jackson: White House Politics 1829—1837, by Richard B. Latner. Georgia $20

Among the important conclusions of more recent evaluations of the Jacksonian era is a return to the original conclusion of Parton that Jackson was very much in control of Democratic party policy and the dominant personality among his “kitchen cabinet.” Latner has consolidated the newer historical insights with social scientific approaches to the collection of data. Among the important emphases of this study is that which presents Jackson’s informal advisors in the light of a flexible system that was democratic yet still permitted the enhancement of one man as the head of government. Latner is also appreciative of the contributions of Van Buren to that central axis of support for Jackson—New York and Virginia—but he emphasizes the solicitude of Jackson for Western interests. He ably presents Jackson as a Jeffersonian reconciling republican institutions to an increasingly pluralistic society.

Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade, by William Chester Jordan. Princeton $18.50

Jordan suggests that Louis IX’s actions throughout his reign were motivated first by his crusade goals and later by the failure of the crusade. Thus Louis’ assumption of power, bureaucratic and administrative reforms, dealings with the barons, and dealings with the Church were all aimed at gathering an army and sufficient funds to support it. On his return, further reforms were aimed at redressing injustices and solving problems that had arisen before and during the crusade, for the dual purpose of paying his ransom and atoning for his sins. A weakness in the study is precisely this one-dimensional interpretation of Louis’ motives and actions. In spite of this flaw, which colors a number of Jordan’s interpretations, his study is convincing and is one of the better recent psycho-histories.

Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, by Isaiah Berlin. Viking $16.95

Sir Isaiah Berlin is one of that increasingly rare breed of men who still believe in ideas. Hitler killed many, Stalin still more, and modern science bids fair to finish off the whole lot of them, and incidentally the rest of us for good measure. But Sir Isaiah goes on, and we can be thankful for his genius even as we admit his utter irrelevance to our era. Who else would bother today with Vico and Herzen and Moses Hess? Why should we care in which modern politicians Hume was reincarnated? Does it matter that the “American genius” that created our form of government was a product of the thinking not so much of Jefferson as of Montesquieu? Of course it matters, so long as we refuse to be divided into categories of those who brandish the bomb and those who fear it. Like it or not, we are condemned—or privileged, and Sir Isaiah does not come down clearly on one side or the other—to inhabit this planet for a while yet, and thinkers like the Sage of Oxford make it a little easier to do so.

Sex in History, by Reay Tannahill. Stein &Day $17.95

This is a pleasant blend of intellectual approach and titillating subject matter. The author combines a detached, conservative point of view with a lot of research and a lively, witty style. The long, illustrated volume includes many entertaining anecdotes and digressions on philosophy, and several interesting conclusions, one of which is that periods of excessive emphasis on sex, such as this one, coincide with widespread social purposelessness. The book is, however, rather depressing for a feminist reader, since, as Tannahill points out over and over, women have been subjugated ever since men first discovered their own role in procreation.

LITERARY STUDIESWalker Percy: An American Search, by Robert Coles. Little, Brown $10.95

Robert Coles, the eminent child psychiatrist and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Children of Crisis series, is perhaps the only critic who could provide such a fine study of Walker Percy and his often enigmatic writings. Coles is a personal friend of Percy. While this allows little distance from his subject, the friendship is put to use well in the analysis of Percy’s life and early writings (in particular, a number of challenging philosophical essays). Coles further breaks with accepted “professional” critical methodology by using material from his own researches among the poor, the oppressed, and just simple folks as a kind of counterpoint to Percy’s work. He is thus able to expand upon and elucidate Percy’s deepest concern: the despair that lurks behind Every-dayness. Coles’ analysis of Percy’s thinking almost always hits the mark. The reader learns a great deal about Percy and his concerns, as well as a good deal about Coles, and, certainly, a surprising amount about himself.

The Gothic Tradition in Fiction, by Elizabeth MacAndrew. Columbia $18.50

One cannot help but be disappointed in The Gothic Tradition in Fiction, not because it is a bad book but because it is not good enough. There is a need for a study of the Gothic novel from a modern critical perspective. It would have to answer such questions as why it arose as a literary form, how it was related to other forms of writing, especially popular writing, and to what extent it supported or differed from neoclassic values of behavior and art. The author has read widely in Gothic and sentimental fiction and criticism, and readers will find her notes and discussions informative. But those familiar with the subject are bound to discover that Professor Mac-Andrew’s explanations remind them of what they already know.

Poetic Presence and Illusion: Essays in Critical History and Theory, by Murray Kreiger. Johns Hopkins $18.95

Professor Krieger brings to the very much embattled field of metacriticism a broadly informed point of view, a passion for explanation, and an inclination to muddle the boundaries of already controversial terminology. There emanates from this volume of unrevised, previously published, occasional essays both a fuzziness in regard to terms, and a peculiar aridity in the prose itself—almost as if it had been deprived for too long a time of its real life-enhancing raison d’être: literature. Nonetheless, Poetic Presence will prove useful to the advanced student. Dry.

Literary Architecture: Essay Toward a Tradition, by Ellen Eve Frank. California $18

Seldom is the bibliophile privileged to discover among recent publications a book on which has been lavished such tremendous intelligence, taste, and love as Ellen Frank’s Literary Architecture. Clearly Ms. Frank, who favors us with a cogent discussion of Pater, Hopkins, Proust, and James, is an artist of the word as well as the book. Not only does this volume put forth a timely argument about early modern literature, it defines that argument artistically within its own very beautiful covers, pages, illustrations, and print. Criticism at its most sumptuous.

Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity, edited by Ralph Freedman. California $14.95

Of the writing and the collection of works about Virginia Woolf there seems to be no end. This gathering of essays is in two parts, Perspectives and The Sequence, and within its limits of time and space ranges widely in opinion and significance. The origin of the book was “a nucleus of papers read in 1974 at the English Institute meetings at Harvard.” Perhaps that adequately summarizes the book that has emerged.

The Individuated Hobbit: Jung, Tolkien and the Archetypes of Middle-Earth, by Timothy R. O’Neill. Houghton Mifflin $8.95

This highly original work seeks to explain Tolkien’s amazing hold on the modern imagination in terms of his independent and parallel development of the themes comprising Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. Rather surprisingly, O’Neill makes of this provocative explanation a tenable hypothesis. More importantly, he sheds critical light on the tales of the Middle-Earth without extinguishing the charm or magic with which Tolkien illuminated them. Finally, this study provides a showcase for a particularly brief and lucid account of the central theories of Jungian psychology. It is a cordial, well-written, thoughtful book. It reorganizes one’s thinking not only about Tolkien, but about what one might expect from a West Point professor of psychology—i. e., a great deal. The study falters only when it gropes for evidence of direct influence by Jung on the thought of Professor Tolkien.

American and British Literature 1945—1975: An Annotated Bibliography of Contemporary Scholarship, by John Somer and Barbara Eck Cooper. Kansas $20

The first obligation of the bibliographer is to present a maximum of accurate, complete information in a small space. By this standard, Somer and Cooper must be judged wanting. This bibliography lacks cross-referencing, makes no intelligent use of abbreviation, falls entirely short of critical annotation (despite the title), and gives an inadequate description of the highly arbitrary, even haphazard selection of the books it does list. Asking $20 for this shoddy effort is real cheek in hard times.

Defoe and Fictional Time, by Paul K. Alkon. Georgia $19

The subject of time in literature is one that has attracted recent critics, as witness Sharon Cameron’s Lyric Time, Angel Medina’s Reflection, Time and the Novel, David L. Higdon’s Time and English Fiction, Alkon’s study is more limited than the others, but it provides him with an opportunity to examine Defoe’s fictions in considerable detail. Its value, however, is less in illuminating Defoe’s novels than in suggesting the kind of studies that need to be undertaken if the concept of “fictional time” is to become a useful one.

The Tragic Effect, by André Green. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Cambridge $22.50

This collection of interpretive essays on tragedy—French, Greek, and English— shows how psychoanalysis has indeed made inroads into literary criticism. The Freudian dogma that truth is found only in disguise and, correspondingly, that one can discern the truth of tragedy only by “an examination of its distortions” is everywhere presupposed in Green’s study. But the perspective is also neo-Freudian as it attempts to incorporate insights of such thinkers as Saussure, Levi-Stauss, etc. It is unlikely that the “New Critic” will find much to affirm in this study.

Eudora Welty’s Achievement of Order, by Michael Kreyling. Louisiana $20

Michael Kreyling’s work has a definite aim, and he accomplishes it both fully and well. He wants “to turn the tables, to show that Welty’s fiction truly encompasses “the general consciousness, ” that it is not primarily regional writing, or even excellent regional writing, but is the vision of a certain artist who must be considered with her peers—Woolf, Bowen, and Forster, among others—who have never been called regional.” In this endeavor none of Welty’s works is slighted. Each is given a thorough working over. “Welty has given,” he writes, “and will continue to give (for these works are soundly made and will stand) a literature that reaches great stature in its theme of love. The world she creates in her fiction is unmistakably hers, and also irresistibly the world itself.”

Milton Studies XIII, edited by James D. Simmonds. Pittsburgh $20.95

This annual volume of essays on Milton is unusually varied this year. There are explorations of Milton’s attitude toward sex and marriage, death, his God, and Hell; then there are critical evaluations of Milton’s use of different genres—not just pastoral—in Lycidas, of the tradition of the revenge tragedy in Samson, of the reflection of Jonsonian “plain style,” and of the Hebraic influence upon his handling of the creation of Eve. The myths of Osiris and Urania are used to show a dual view of the structure of reality. Several other essays, particularly one on the dramatic structure and emotive pattern in Paradise Lost IX and on his humor in the epic, are valuable ones, too.

Henry James: The Later Novels, by Nicola Bradbury. Oxford $32

After some consideration of the works leading up to the three major late novels, Nicola Bradbury devotes a chapter to each of the three, The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. She concludes that, though James began two further novels after The Golden Bowl and wrote as well important short stories and his autobiographical works, The Golden Bowl “became James’s last novel because it completed his oeuvre: . . .he had taken the novel form as far as he could go, or even as far as it could then go.” This rather simple yet intricate book offers other answers to the questions: “Why do we read James? And how?”

Jean Rhys: A Critical Study, by Thomas F. Staley. Texas $11.95

Before the liberal coffers of academic institutions showered handsome benefactions on even the most mediocre creative writers, it was quite possible for a talented artist to become “lost among the people.” In the thirties Jean Rhys wrote four superlative novels of elegant desolation and then, apparently, faded into the milieu inhabited by her always distressed but highly intelligent heroines. Professor Staley has written a fine book that is a tribute to the memory of this brave, resilient woman who happened not merely incidently to be a very distinguished novelist.

Forging a Language: A Study of the Plays of Eugene O’Neill., by Jean Chothia. Cambridge $24.50

It is disturbing, given the otherwise unflagging industry of the academy in this respect, to see a major American dramatist like Eugene O’Neill repeatedly passed over and ignored. Fortunately for us all, a British don, Jean Chothia, has rushed in to set a very high standard indeed for future O’Neill studies. Not only specialists, but all literature teachers, should, in particular, take a good long look at the section, “O’Neill’s literary biography,” in order to rectify some of the vapidities that pass for gospel in the classroom. Meticulous notes, excellent bibliography, eye-opening appendices.

POETRYNotes from the Castle, by Howard Moss. Atheneum $10 cloth, $5.95 paper

To see in gravel the possibility for a poem, and then to make of that subject matter a refreshing poem of over a hundred lines—this ability demands an especially cultivated innocence. Such a poem, one thinks, would have to be impressionistic. In this collection, which opens with “Gravel,” sensory impressions luxuriate. But so rarefied is the air in these consciously elegant poems that one can hardly tell “a brandy snifter of pine” from “the chemical breath / Of the paper factory.” Characteristic of this poet is his refined good humor—whether he is writing an elegy for his sister, an impressionistic description of Mexico City, or an aesthetic epistle to James Merrill. This characteristic denies neither the bad nor the ugly, but it does allow Moss to find amid life’s boring repetition “beautiful, personal, spontaneous forms.”

Coming to Terms, by Josephine Miles. Illinois $8.95 cloth, $3.95 paper

These poems, best read in sequence, represent the conscious effort of a poet— now in her 69th year—to come to terms with her life by rehearsing past experiences, such as her childhood battle with arthritis, which put her in a body cast. Miss Miles also tells of her Saturdays when “everyone went / To the beach” and she “to a Hall under vines” to study; and she coyly explains her decision to become a teacher. For many years a professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley, Miss Miles writes mostly about her experiences there. One poem, “Makers,” is a “tally” as well as a critique of those poets who are somehow connected with that area: from Jeffers to Rexroth, from Winters to Brother Antoninus. Many of the pieces are very slight, but the poem suggestively titled “Trip,” which serves as a sort of prologue, is of considerable breadth. The same can be said of the concluding poem, “Center,” an unusually long poem for Miss Miles. “What are we here for?” she asks, and answers: “To err, / To fail and attempt as terribly as possible.” This poem is an especially dazzling “enterprise” toward “substance and grace.”

Trader, by Robert Mazzocco. Knopf $8.95

Taking the shape of dreams or ceremonies, these poems have the rhythm of incantation. Terse unpunctuated lines, repeated phrases, and one-word titles heighten the effect of ritual. Exotic images and violent acts flow together, fusing love, betrayal, loss, and exile. Darkly prophetic, disturbingly intense, this first collection presents a strong lyrical voice, compelling if relentless in its despair.

Aerial View of Louisiana, by Cleopatra Mathis. Sheep Meadow Press $4.95

Cleopatra Mathis writes with a lucid grace and captures the atmosphere of the rural south. Her reverence for ancestry and rootedness to place is balanced by a sharp acknowledgment of cruelty and violence in family life. Many of the poems elevate animals’ natural simplicity above man’s efforts at self-importance and permanence. Two adaptations from Grimm are especially effective, focusing on woman as martyr. These poems reflect a deep understanding of landscape and language, and the understated tone throughout is well suited to her delicate sense of irony and analogy.

Crossing the Same River, by Patricia Goedicke. Massachusetts $8.50 cloth, $4.50 paper

The most interesting aspect of Goedicke’s fifth collection is the vacillation between themes of cosmic unity and of isolation. The dedication poem is to Walt Whitman, saying “there is nothing very unusual about my life / Or most people’s,” and the final, title poem celebrates continuity and love, reconciling opposites. But there are also poems on the bitter details of aging and on sex: lovers are “locked in the cave of the self / They are all alone.” Still, the overall effect of the book is expansive, even visionary, moving from narcissism to embrace extremes of crowds/ solitude, peace/torment.

New and Selected Poems, by Irving Feldman. Viking $15 cloth, Penguin $7.95 paper

Gathered here are eleven poems, written since Leaping Clear, a nominee for the National Book Award, was published in 1976, and a selection from it and Feldman’s four other books, the first of which was published in 1962. Among the admirers of Feldman’s early poems was John Crowe Ransom, and one can see why: many of the earliest are traditionally formal, and all—including most of the later ones—are wittily allusive. Still, one has the feeling that Feldman approached and departed but somehow never arrived. When he meditates on the drama he shares imaginatively with other Jews, as in “The Pripet Marshes” and “To the Six Million,” both less-than-formal poems from his second book, or when he confronts his personal experiences head-on, as in “Leaping Clear” and the second and third sections of “Family History,” a new poem, he can write convincingly and memorably. But often he seems, as Picasso warned the artist against becoming, a connoisseur of his own effects.

The Seeing Glass, by Katie Louchheim. Dryad Press $4

These poems frustrate in their struggle to be better. Despite their moments of aphoristic intensity (“Adam wanted Truth, / Was given Reason!”) and their glimpses of vivid lyrical beauty, many of the poems are flawed by their author’s tendency to overwrite. Her strongest works are internal reflections or musings on family heritage. When she moves out of the self and into the domain of satire, her style strains against itself and buckles; she succumbs to the temptation to heap excessive metaphor and unrelated images on her fragile structures with predictable results.

Timing Devices: Poems, by Paul Mariani. Godine $12.50

In Mariani’s first book of poems, he exhibits exceptional power and control. Many of his poems deal with his family heritage and his own past, the incidents of which are carefully blended with omnipresent tones of death and decay. Yet he never lapses into self-indulgent nostalgia. Instead, his reminiscences spark his imagination and help to define his personal and spiritual growth as his older world decays. In addition to the grace and beauty of the poetry, the book includes five wood engravings by Barry Moser, which help to make this a remarkable first book of poems.

Gentleman, Single, Refined and Selected Poems, 1937—1959, by Hjalmar Gullberg. Translated by Judith Moffett. Louisiana $8.95

This bilingual facing-page edition of selected poems of this distinguished Swedish poet makes of the central corpus of Gullberg’s work the first introduction to an English speaking audience. His gifts have borne translation poorly in many an attempt, as the lyric poetry of any language inheres in the metric soul of its native tongue. Professor Moffett has succeeded remarkably in capturing stanza, rhyme, and figure of speech. No translation can ever pretend duplication of the original, and it is considerably to the credit of this edition that Moffett has selected for image and sound above the tyranny of the word for word rendering of scholarly literalism. Most readers will have no Swedish but will find it not too difficult to make out the sounds of the masculine original while glossing and interpreting via the sense on the facing page.

The Morning of the Poem, by James Schuyler. Farrar, Straus & Giroux $10.95

Schuyler’s ability to write self-consciously without injecting any hint of pompousness or self-satisfaction makes this book succeed. At the heart of many of his poems is a powerful sense of self which simultaneously observes and writes, thereby initiating a process which charges the relationship between the poet and the world with an unusual intensity. The best results of this technique are his observations on the texture of the dynamic world: “The light lies layered in the leaves.” (So it is that he can write “I don’t want to be open, / merely to say, to see and say, things/ as they are.”) The book ends with its long title poem, an autobiographical letter which examines the tragic content of Schuyler’s experience as a source for his poetic material.

Groundwork, by Robert Morgan. Gnomon Press $8.50

Morgan’s is a regional poetry, filled with the characters and the landscape that make western North Carolina a discrete pays. Berries and snakes, cabins and country stores serve as a framework for Morgan’s rambling, discursive style of poetry. His work includes a sense of the objective, elemental harshness of nature that metes out fate to the living creatures of Appalachia. Accordingly, his poetry succeeds for its tones of humble beauty and naturalistic brutality of nature struggling against man.

The Work of a Common Woman, by Judy Grahn. St. Martin’s $8.95

These poems present as many tones of voice as there are cultural attitudes toward women, often lashing out satirically beneath surface calm and innocence. The “Common Woman” series is the clearest, most memorable section, in which women as strong individuals stand against man-made fantasies. Behind all these poems is the need to unmask the worn-out conventions and clichés of romance and to fragment love and power into creative, purposeful aspects vs. false, destructive ones. Grahn is intent on exposing the frustrations of dealing with a language that perpetuates the roles that undermine her values. Poetry that strives successfully to change our deepest perception of ordinary events and relationships is extremely rare, and perhaps only radical feminists such as Adrienne Rich, whose introduction focuses admirably on the necessary transformation of vision, will find this work as effective as it tries to be.

LIVES & LETTERSThe Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper, Vol. I, edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford $58

This is the first volume of a projected five-volume edition of the letters and prose writings of William Cowper, His letters, even though frequently reprinted in revised and incompleted form, have come to be recognized as among the most interesting and best written in English literature. The editors will print them in unexpurgated form, and if this volume is an example, this edition will prove definitive. The special value of this first volume is that it includes, in addition to the letters from 1750 through 1781, his uncut autobiographical account called Adelphi. This moving document of religious and personal torment, written in 1772, reveals the young Cowper as artist and man. It is a noteworthy beginning of an important edition.

Heinrich Heine: A Modern Biography, by Jeffrey L. Sammons. Princeton $27.50

During the last 15 years, there has been a spate of papers devoted to Heine scholarship, and a great deal has been learned about him. Thus Sammons, a well-known Germanist at Yale, feels that this is a propitious moment to attempt a comprehensive biography and the first fully documented one in more than a century. He says this can be no more than an interim biography because of the continuing work on the subject by many researchers, but one gets the strong feeling from reading the book that this “interim” will be a very long one. Sammons states in his preface that considerations of space made it necessary to characterize rather than interpret Heine’s works. Thus the interpretations are shorter than one might expect in a work of this kind. However, the detail concerning Heine’s life and at times stormy relationships with friends, enemies, publishers, and others is enormous. Much space is devoted to Heine’s “Jewishness” and how he tried to resolve it. The reader must inevitably be in awe of the amount of material presented, the time it must take to search it out. Currently some 200 books and articles appear annually concerning Heine, so a lot of people are searching, and presumably some new material will appear. But Sammons has done an outstanding job in this book, and it should stand as the biography of Heine for years to come.

Lean Trotsky, by Ronald Segal. Pantheon $15

A new biography of Trotsky resembles a new round of winter weather and is about as welcome. There is nothing new in it; it much resembles its predecessors; and it will not be the last. Ronald Segal, a South African transplanted to England, seeks to honor the old Bolshevik on the centennial of his birth. The result is a biography that faithfully repeats every cliché ever written about Trotsky. In this respect, as in so many others, it is indeed a worthy successor to Robert Payne’s effort of a couple of years ago.

The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830—1857, selected, edited, and translated by Francis Steegmuller. Harvard $12.50

Flaubert did not keep a diary, but he did write a great many letters. This splendid collection focuses upon his correspondence with Louise Colet, at two different periods his mistress and, over the long birth of Madame Bovary, his epistolary confidant. Before that we find Flaubert in Rouen growing up, and in the Middle East flexing his young manhood (and picking up some painful, if wittily recorded, souvenirs along the way). Then back to France and the pursuit of his destiny. Francis Steegmuller and his publisher are to be congratulated upon this marvelously entertaining volume.

The Diaries of George Washington: Vol. V, July 1786—Dec. 1789; Vol. VI, Jan. 1790—Dec. 1799, edited by Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig. Virginia $30 per volume

With these two volumes, covering Washington’s return to national service through to his death, the editors complete publication of the diaries, the first phase in the monumental publication of Washington’s writings. Laconic as always, more interested in recording farming experiments and crop yields than political impressions, continuing to jot down whom he had seen and where he had gone, Washington was making notes to himself upon which he often expanded and expounded in his letters. That is a great value of these diaries which will make them indispensable to the full publications, for the footnotes continue to be complete, succinct, and a model of style. Volume VI also contains a complete bibliography and index to the series. The editors have turned the diaries and almanac notes, themselves of limited usefulness, into sources which when placed in their context give us real insight into this most inscrutable of the Founding Fathers.

Show People: Profiles in Entertainment, by Kenneth Tynan. Simon & Schuster $11.95

Mr. Tynan is thoroughly familiar with the theatrical world and writes brilliantly about it. The present sparkling essays, some of which appeared in The New Yorker, deal in varied approaches to five differing show people: Ralph Richardson, veteran English actor; Tom Stoppard, gifted English playwright; Johnny Carson, talk-show artist; Mel Brooks, satirist, director, and screenwriter; and lastly Louise Brooks, once a glamorous film actress but now a recluse. All of these Mr. Tynan would like to include in his “ideal dinner party” and justifies through discriminating insight.

Caroline: A Biography of Caroline of Brunswick, by Thea Holme. Atheneum $12.95

The untidy life of Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, wife of George IV, and his uncrowned Queen, is here recounted in great detail and with considerable sympathy. “It was her tragedy,” writes Mrs. Holme, “that she was never loved; but there were a few who saw her as she was and pitied her, a sad woman who tried to overcome her failures by playing the clown.”

Katherine Mansfield: A Biography, by Jeffrey Meyers. New Directions $17.50

The well-known story of Katherine Mansfield is told here once again, but without the rather sickly sentimentality that has characterized some other accounts. Perhaps the last sentence in this book indicates its intent and nature: “When Murry’s critical debris is cleared away, the Katherine that emerges from the ruins is a darker and more earthly, a crueller and more capable figure than in the legend.”

The Papers of John Marshall, Vol. III, 1796—1798, edited by Charles T. Cullen. North Carolina $24

This newest Marshall volume is of considerable interest to scholars concerned with the character of federalism at its height. It includes much information pertaining to Marshall’s diplomatic experience and his developing insight into foreign affairs, national defense, and the controversy over the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. In particular, there is much information concerning the XYZ Affair, an incident that propelled Marshall into the first line of Federalist leadership. Coded material is deciphered anew by the editors, and most importantly Marshall’s private journal compiled in Paris is herein printed for the first time. Editorial assistance concerning the diplomatic papers included in this volume has been provided by William Stinchcombe. Many letters have been unearthed and are printed here for the first time, several uncovered by diligent research in France. Similarly, expert assistance in the interpretation of Ware v. Hylton has been provided by George Curtis.

Lovers on the Nile, by Richard Hall. Random House $10.95

Livingstone refused to accept Sam Baker as an associate in his African explorations, so Baker formed his own expedition—ostensibly to search for John Speke and James Grant—and ended up making discoveries as famous as any of the era. On the way to Africa he bought a teenage Hungarian girl at a Turkish slave auction in Bulgaria and eventually made her both his wife and a proper Victorian lady, not necessarily in that order, and we have left a few items by the wayside. Florence, as the girl was called, and Sam spent years searching for the headwaters of the Nile and about the same amount of time fighting off slavers and malaria.

Island in Time, by Olga Carlisle. Holt, Rinehart & Winston $12.95

Trapped in France in 1940, the family of Olga Andreyev was in an especially difficult position because they were Russian émigrés and because they had next to no money. The father stayed in Paris during the first part of the Nazi occupation, but Olga, her mother, and her brother, along with assorted other relatives and hangerson, ended up on the rather nondescript island of Oléron, off the coast near La Rochelle. This moving account of survival—it was admittedly a much easier task for the Andreyevs than for millions of others—is a simple yet revealing memoir of World War II.

Struve: Liberal on the Right, 1905—1944, by Richard Pipes. Harvard $32.50

This second and concluding volume of Richard Pipes’ admirable biography of Peter Struve brings the youthful radical Marxist into soul-searing contact with revolution, war, and upheaval on the 20thcentury scale. As the subtitle indicates, Struve no more emerged with his political beliefs intact than did anyone else of his generation, and he was to become a dedicated anti-Marxist and a violent—on paper, anyway—opponent of the Bolsheviks. His learning was prodigious, and it was matched only by his near-saintly character: according to Pipes, Struve never committed “a single sordid act” in his life. On that count, too, he richly deserves the monument that Mr. Pipes has erected to his memory.

Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years, by James L. Clifford. McGraw-Hill $17.95

The late James Clifford was our most eminent Johnson scholar. His interest in Johnson as man and writer proved a stimulus to and guide for others. In this biographical study, Clifford completes his biography begun in Young Sam Johnson. He once again demonstrates his concern for accuracy, his reluctance to theorize, his love for his subject, his delight in the everyday details of 18th-century life. All Johnson scholars are in his debt, and his generosity, his readiness to share his knowledge with others, his careful scholarship will continue to live through this biography.

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRSOne Nation Divisible: Class, Race and Ethnicity in the United States Since 1938, by Richard Polenberg. Viking $12.95

Here is a clearly written, well-organized, and quite circumspect account of continuity and change in the contours of class, racial, and ethnic stratification in the United States since the end of the New Deal. Polenberg describes the scope of change generated by economic growth and by scores of new initiatives in the nation’s public law; he also indicates the persistence of class, racial, and ethnic “segmentation” in modern American life. The book contains neither surprising findings of fact nor striking new interpretations. It is simply a very good survey.

Marxism After Marx, by David McLellan. Harper & Row $18.50

This primer on post-Marx Marxism deals with a subject that resembles the book of Genesis: no one in his or her right mind takes it literally, but millions are ready to die for it. Lenin (whose birthplace Mr. McLellan gets wrong) bent Marxism out of shape, and it has never been the same, Stalin owed more to Genghis Khan than Marx, and Ho Chi Minh did not even pay lip service to the founder of “scientific socialism.” As for Castro, good food and girl friends have always been more important than ideology. In short, this is a superfluous book upon what has become a frivolous theme.

Fire in the Streets, by Milton Viorst. Simon & Schuster, $14.95

Viorst, a fine reporter, has attempted to record the political turmoil of the U. S. during the sixties in this volume. The method he has chosen—in-depth interviews with representative figures for each year of the decade—produces some interesting reflections on the era, but also limits the author from synthesizing any perceptive conclusions about the decade. Although Viorst has great sympathies with liberals and civil rights leaders such as E. D. Nixon and Joseph Rauh, Jr., he unfortunately has no common grounds on which to base his dialogues with Alien Ginsburg, James Mellon, and other leaders in the counterculture movements. Therefore, the book, despite its interesting reflections, falls far short of being a complete social history of the decade.

The Mirage, by Zay N, Smith and Pamela Zekman. Random House $10

If you like 60 Minutes, you will like The Mirage, a fascinating true story of kickbacks and corruption involved in operating a bar in Chicago. The Mirage, operated by the Chicago Sun-Times, is a typical neighborhood bar. The new “owners” encounter rip-offs, payoffs, and corruption before they are even open for business! A gripping story, but slightly padded to make it book-length.

Political Theory and Political Education, edited by Melvin Richter. Princeton $13. 50

This collection of previously unpublished essays, including chapters by Allan Bloom, J. G. A. Pocock, Michael Walzer, Sheldon Wolin, and a number of European scholars, contains serious and diverse arguments about the status of political theory and its role in modern society. In a long and useful introduction, the editor reminds us that 30 years ago political theory was thought to be on the verge of extinction. Ignored by analytic philosophers and attacked by behavioral social scientists, the study of political philosophy became an unwelcome and unimportant requirement for some degrees in political science. Richter believes, and his essayists demonstrate, that the study of politics and the education of citizens improves when serious attention is given to the fundamental moral and philosophic problems in political life.

The Crown and the Thistle: The Nature of Nationhood, edited by Colin MacLean. Columbia $10.50

In the wake of the great debate on Devolution in the 1970’s, British scholars, statesmen, and public figures are again examining the very concept of nation and nationhood. A series of lectures and seminars was held in the autumn of 1978 at St. Andrews University in Scotland, and this book is the published fruit of those impressive proceedings. The endlessly fascinating A. J. P. Taylor leads off with an essay on “Nations in History” that is a minor masterpiece of compression. Other contributors include Sir William Haley of The Times and Lord Soames.

The Return of Eva Perón: With the Killings in Trinidad, by V. S. Naipaul. Knopf $10

These magnificent essays by the man who is arguably the best writer of the English language introduce the reader to the “half-made” societies of Trinidad (where Mr. Naipaul was born, of Indian parent-age), Argentina, and the Congo. In Trinidad, a crazed black (“Michael X”) takes his own messianic character seriously and disembowels some nonbelievers. In Argentina the police disembowel everyone they can get their hands on. In the Congo everyone gets drunk, rips out the plumbing and electricity, and assails the perfidy of the imperialists. Mr. Naipaul’s chronicle of these miseries is superb reading.

Fall of the Peacock Throne: The Story of Iran, by William H. Forbis. Harper & Row $15.95

This is a good introductory work for those seeking a better understanding of the history and society of Iran. Based on hundreds of interviews with Iranians in all walks of life during 1976 and 1977, the book has three major parts: the first retraces Iran’s history for the last 2,500 years; the second describes the Iranians, their values, preferences, and tastes; and the third discusses oil and its consequences for Iranian society. The book is rather extensive in its coverage, but perhaps because of this and the fact that the interviews were conducted during a relatively stable period, the forces and events that led to the fall of the Shah were not meticulously scrutinized.

The First Freedom, by Nat Hentoff. Delacorte $9.95

This is a well-written primer on the First Amendment. The book initially examines free speech claims by students and teachers, albeit with no more explanation than that if the young do not believe that “the First Amendment is of real, palpable, personal value . . .its future will be in some peril.” Turning to the tumultuous history of free speech, the author surveys controversies that shaped the contours of the amendment from the founding period and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, through the “Red Scare” of World War I, to the political protests of the last decade. The remaining half of the book takes up contemporary concerns over religious exercise, press privileges, and the forms of speech—the libelous, the obscene, and fighting words—which are beyond First Amendment protection. Unfortunately, in 25 chapters, the author, a journalist, fails to provide more than a recital of interesting facts and rulings and to articulate a thesis cum analytical perspective that illuminates the inevitable but vexatious dilemmas posed by the central place of the First Amendment in our constitutional democracy.

Not Working, by Henry Maurer. Holt, Rinehart &Winston $12.95

In the words of the unemployed, this sensitive and forceful book renders stark statistics into striking portraits of the “human damages” wrought by a sputtering economy. Feelings of anger, betrayal, despair, and rationalization recur as a remarkably broad cross-section of dislocated workers recount their struggle for economic survival. Maurer’s obvious talents as a reassuring interviewer, along with his well-written introduction, his effective editing, and his intelligent organization of 59 interviews make this an important book for an age confused by economic paradigms and headline stories about our malfunctioning economy.

The Moral Imperatives of Human Rights: A World Survey, edited by Kenneth W. Thompson. University Press of America $8.75

Presidents often make their most lasting contributions to American history by the questions and issues they put on the nation’s agenda rather than the policies and programs they actually carry out. President Carter, even if he does not win a second term, has already guaranteed that for some time to come controversy about human rights will have an impact on American foreign policy. Scholars, decision-makers, and citizens interested in the continuing human rights controversy would be well advised to consult this collection of essays examining the historical, theological, and cultural dimensions of the issue. With chapters on human rights in the Soviet, Chinese, Indian, African, Islamic, and Latin American political cultures, the book provides a comprehensive international analysis that is usually lacking in discussions of human rights as an American policy problem. As a result of these diverse perspectives, the book raises serious doubts about the possibility of establishing effective universal standards for a human rights policy, at the same time it recognizes the importance of searching for such standards. If concern for human rights is a lasting legacy of the Carter administration, serious research, like that contained in this volume, into the origins and implications of that concern will be of lasting value.

Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex, and Suicide in the Deep South, by Rosemary Daniell. Holt, Rinehart & Winston $11.95

The subtitle and the chapter headings of this remarkable exposé perhaps offer sufficient commentary: “Pictures from My Mother’s Life” (the book itself was triggered by her mother’s suicide in 1974); “Scars from a Southern Girlhood” “Obsessive Love, Circa 1948”; “Stains on a Piece of White Satin”; “Stretchmarks: The Sixties”; “The Sisterhood of White Southern Women”; “A Kiss for Christ My Sister”; and the final chapter heading which repeats the subtitle. It is hard to believe that one woman, Southern or not, could have experienced all that Rosemary Daniell claims she did and survived. Her style is lurid: “Pus dripped from the forsythia blossoms” is a mild example. The entire book is a cry of outrage: “What I had once seen as the condition of being female, I now saw as female and Southern; I perceived my mother, grandmother, sister, daughters—and all the women whose roots I shared—as netted in one mutual silken bondage.” Her conclusion: “. . .though the cost had been enormous I had at last managed something Mother had never dreamed possible—a life outside the role of wife, mother, mistress, or martyr.” A poet—and Rosemary Daniell is a poet as well as the doleful chronicler of the woes and whims of Southern womanhood— ought to be better at transcribing Southern speech at least than she is.

FICTIONVida, by Marge Piercy. Summit $12.95

The contemporary novel has increasingly lent itself to the stirring polemics of militant feminism. As a society, we have been shrewedly analyzed by Margaret Atwood, galvanized by the white-hot urgency of Rita Mae Brown, and solemnly preached at by Marilyn French. Now we are being relentlessly politicized by Marge Piercy. It is, however, hard to protest when the novel in which this politicization occurs is so clairvoyant a transcription of the environment we inhabit. As Thomas Pyncheon has remarked, Marge Piercy is one of our most courageous novelists “just out of love for the truth and a need to tell it.” Amen.

The Feast of All Saints, by Anne Rice. Schuster $14.95

Anne Rice’s first novel, Interview With A Vampire, was an imaginative piece of contemporary fiction. Her second novel, however, fails to develop her promise. The Feast of All Saints depicts the fate of the gens de couleur libre of antebellum New Orleans. The strongest facet of this novel is Rice’s characterization of the elite members of this subculture. Especially in her two young protagonists, Marcel and Marie Ste. Marie, Rice captures the tragic plight of well-educated and talented aristocrats doomed to an inferior status in a rigid caste system. Unfortunately, these characters exist in a plot that fails to maintain the reader’s interest. In short, this novel is an overwritten version of Cable’s The Grandissimes; the reader would do better by reading that century-old American novel. Simon &

A Married Man, by Piers Paul Read. Lippincott $10.95

This superb novel, written by the author of the best seller, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, recounts the life of a middle-aged London barrister named John Strickland. While on vacation, Strickland happens to pick up Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych and becomes disturbed by Ilych’s question: “Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done?” The rest of the novel is the tale of the faults and foibles of a middle-aged man attempting to alter


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