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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Excellent dust jacket. Binding: Hardcover / Publisher: Bloomsbury USA / Pub. Date: 2006-04-04 Attributes: Book / Stock#: 2000766 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Literary Lives Hardcover – April 4, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159691064X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596910645
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review.If caricaturist Sorel's goal with this series of short, illustrated biographies is to deflate the bloated personas of Proust, Sartre, Tolstoy and seven other of prominent literary figures, he has surely succeeded. Sorel, whose work appears in the New Yorker, the Atlantic and Vanity Fair, among others, sweeps through the portraits by focusing most of his attention on embarrassing foibles. There's a great deal to laugh at in his satirical take on this sexually promiscuous group of bombastic literati, such as the indelible images of an aging Ayn Rand enveloping her young male protégé, W.B. Yeats proposing repeatedly to the same woman for 25 years, or Norman Mailer plunging an ice pick into his wife at the 1960 announcement of his New York mayoral candidacy. As if Sorel's squiggly caricatures of wide-eyed figures prone to frequent fits of rage and grandeur aren't enough to cut his subjects down to size, his short lines of text further puncture with wrath. ("Still in pursuit of true Christianity, Tolstoy decides to give away his wealth by making his novels free of copyright. His wife is less than supportive" and "Yeats edits 'The Oxford Book of Modern Verse.' It includes three poems by Ezra Pound, three by W.H. Auden, and seven by a 29-year-old actress named Margot Ruddock, his current mistress.") The scathing effect of this quick read is best described in an introduction from E.L. Doctorow: "never have authors of such magnitude been so casually eviscerated."
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About the Author

Edward Sorel is an internationally known caricaturist and satirist, whose drawings have been exhibited in galleries and museums in Europe and the United States. In 1998, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., exhibited their large collection of his caricatures. Sorel is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and Vanity Fair. Born in the Bronx, he now lives in Harlem with his wife, the writer Nancy Caldwell Sorel.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By margot on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Edward Sorel has always annoyed me because most of his stuff is political, and his politics are predictable. (I never liked Jules Feiffer, for the same reason.) But Sorel's inimitable line and color--ah! This is a guy whose aim is to produce the appearance of doodle-book spontaneity, and he's willing to redraw something a hundred times to get that effect.

So I love his art but hate his potted, derivative opinions. But this is a different kettle of beans.

Turns out he's got a very original wit, once you get him away from politics. His low-down anger and meanness skewer Ayn Rand, Sartre, Proust, Jung, Lillian Hellman and others, with a viciousness I've never seen displayed in by a--how you say?--purely typographical critic.

The seeming randomness of the selection itself borders on genius. Making fun of Sartre and Hellman--okay, fish in a barrel, right? But Proust, Tolstoy, Yeats, Jung? It's like satire planned by a nutritionist.

Most of these little illustrated bios were first printed in The Atlantic Monthly, where I saw one or two. Stitching a number of them together like this enhances rather than dilutes the effect of each one. You get the definite sense of a clear point-of-view, rather than a one-off ha-ha at the expense of a someone far grander than the lowly cartoonist.

I suppose he's getting on in years now, Sorel; he was doing political caricatures in Esquire when I was a little girl in the 60s. But I hope this Stracheyesque satire is the herald of a new career phrase, rather than just a small but gorgeous valedictory.

(POSTSCRIPT: I was trying to damn with faint praise when I wrote this, I think. Actually I'm a huge Sorel fan and chagrined to know he read my condescending words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lionel G. Standing on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although short, this brilliant little book is replete with merciless venom, skillfully directed towards literary celebrities who indeed deserve it, and with a visual skill worthy of comparison with the great caricaturists of the past like Hogarth or Daumier. So far as I can judge, everything he says is literally true. He does not show his targets 'warts and all', but rather as warts, period. Altogether this makes for an exhilarating romp through the depths of human credulity, cupidity and perversity. Totally delightful!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Bromberg on February 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Edward Sorel's "Literary Lives" is a collection of cartoons lampooning the careers of ten writers -- in sharp, acerbic, sometimes wildly funny episodes -- and all of them are far from a Classics Comics telling of literary history. Depending on your appreciation of Yeats, Jung, and Ayn Rand (to name three whose tales appear), Sorel's pen skewers or demolishes the reputations of some of the world's prominent literary figures.

His first piece, on the life of Honore Balzac, turned out to be quite sad; Balzac spent much of his life trying to win the approval of his mother, and was a very sympathetic character. Not surprisingly, the Balzac biography isn't included here. Sorel told an interviewer it "wasn't funny."

The artist decided to bring out the darker and more unpleasant traits of his subjects. Norman Mailer sneaks into the hospital and suggests to his recovering wife she doesn't tell the police the truth, that he stabbed her at a party; it might hurt his New York mayoral campaign. Next to Sorel's child-like script declaring "A Cult Is Born," Ayn Rand holds a biblical tablet emblazened with the words Push Grab Take Keep to frenzied admirers.

Sorel can be gently satiric as well: he imagines Proust's hometown filled with billboards advertising madelaines and, in the Illiers-Combray town square, there's a Cafe du Temps Perdu. Whatever a reader thinks of a writer for good or bad, casting a critical eye on the foibles of heroes is great fun in "Literary Lives." It's also a lot more entertaining than the entire library of Classics Illustrated comics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judith A. Foosaner on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
More fun than is probably legal, Literary Lives is Edward Sorel at his very best. The writing is robust, irreverant and spicy; the drawing ferociously alive. I read this in the dentist's chair, on a fast train, in a darkened room and in other unnameable places. I love it, my dentist loves it and my friends love it. A marvelous vista and a delicious read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
put simply: perfection, humor, evil barbs executed with elan and panache - which extend to both dialogue and drawings, that it will never again be possible to gaze on Lillian Hellman's accomplishments with holy reverence.. Ditto Dash Hammett and other takers of serious positions as befits real artists on a cock to their erected Holy walk. Occasionally uneven, but BRUTALLY and bracingly funny. A follow-up volume of today's truly ABR* must be forthcoming. So: where is it & when can we expect it! Pronto; please.

*Artists Beyond Reproach
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