Illuminating Balzac more successfully through examining his work than his era, Robb attempts to unravel the novelist's prolific, debt-driven career, his disorderly pursuit of fame and love, and his instinct for financial trouble. Born to an eccentric, self-made peasant father and a much younger petty bourgeoise mother, HonorÇ de Balzac is credited with developing Realism in the French novel, epitomized in La ComÇdie humaine, which is comprised of over 100 works and some 2,000 characters. Robb, a scholar of 19th-century French literature, lucidly addresses Balzac's less impressive early literary attempts at classical tragedy and gothic and sentimental novels. His first successes, after failed ventures in publishing and printing, were a historical novel and a smartly cynical marital guide derived from his gutter journalism. His notoriety was secured (but never his loans), and La ComÇdie humaine later materialized as the unfinishable project of his life: an enormous fresco of his epoch's every aspect, from Paris to the provinces, through the spheres of finance, politics, journalism, and law. Less interested in the post-Napoleonic age, which the novelist both embodied and scandalized, Robb shadows Balzac's obsessions with all the current fads, such as mesmerism, Orientalism, railway speculation, and the cult of the mad genius (e.g., he wrote wearing a monk's robe). By a combination of literary success and social climbing, the novelist also worked his way through an increasingly aristocratic set of older mistresses. (Robb suggests homosexual liaisons with literary secretaries-collaborators, a contested point among both the 19th-century press and later biographers.) Ironically, his great love was a married Ukrainian countess, Eveline Hanska, who stayed loyal to the unreliable Balzac, maintaining an almost 20-year relationship (mainly epistolary), and married him at the end of his life. Robb's Balzac, however manic and obsessive, could separate himself from the fictional world of La ComÇdie while creating a character for his fame to inhabit and a genuine melodrama for his life. (Photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-03679-0

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1994

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



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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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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