ART, DIALOGUE AND OUTRAGE

ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND CULTURE

Nigerian Nobel laureate Soyinka offers more than 30 years' worth of rewarding essays on artistic practice and cultural politics. While he is best known in America as author of the memoir AkÇ: The Years of Childhood (1982), Soyinka first made his name as a dramatist, and many of the writings collected here concern dramatic art. These include the opening essay, which expresses Soyinka's dismay with his national theater; a longer piece, written 20 years later, that surveys modern versions of traditional West African theatrical forms; and extended considerations of Aristophanes, Euripedes, and Shakespeare. Soyinka's intriguing discussions of literature and myth include a theoretical reflection in which he forges a Nietzschean model of Yoruba tragedy, centered on his vision of ``the fourth stage, the vortex of archetypes and home of the tragic spirit.'' Most of his essays here, however, focus on broader issues of African society in the world context. In early efforts, he sensitively explores the implications for African writers of the ``common backcloth'' of primitivism against which European commentators have depicted them, yet upbraids his fellow Africans for abdicating their political responsibilities in the wake of decolonization. Later essays call for the dissolution of language boundaries through the adoption of a common African tongue, and for ``a definitive end to all forms of dictatorship on the continent.'' In perceptive essays on Western culture's ``novelty system'' and on Roland Barthes, Soyinka considers the role of the critic in society while working out his ambivalent relationship to Marxism. Soyinka's prose can be murky, and too often his ``dialogues'' with other writers amount only to obscure polemics. But while some passages may seem belabored or dated, the insight and outrage that animate the best of these essays remain salient. Soyinka's voice is indomitable, and his perspective unique; his positions should be considered carefully by anyone seeking to join the struggle for culture in the postcolonial era.

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Pub Date: May 18, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-40065-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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