The Sheep from the Goats: Selected Literary Essays of John Simon

John Ivan Simon, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $24.95 (453p) ISBN 978-1-55584-180-5
Without referring to prevailing theories of schools of thought, New York magazine drama critic and author ( Ingmar Bergman Directs ) Simon, in these 49 entertaining pieces of book chat, tries to impart ``what makes a work or an author sui generis'' and how he rates that ``particular quiddity.'' Widely but mistakenly regarded as mainly a negative critic, Simon brings high standards to bear on American, English, French, Slavic, Italian and Hispanic writers. He praises Randall Jarrell's ``brilliantly and justly destructive reviews,'' Ian Hamilton's biography of Robert Lowell, Stevie Smith's verse, Camus's notebooks and the writings of Grass, Kafka, Kundera and Borges, among others. But acknowledging that ``in a critic, complaining is often necessary where it hurts most,'' he castigates Norman Mailer's ``usual jumble of megalomania, phantasmagoria, marketable paranoia, and unprovable assertions,'' Gore Vidal's ``want of strong, memorable, living characters'' and the limitations of structuralism, semiotics and deconstructionism. He also cannot resist pointing out mistranslations, stylistic infelicities, and grammatical and spelling errors. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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