When the book was first published in 1954, most considered Gertrude Johnson to be a none-too-veiled portrait of Mary McCarthy. (The Partisan Review, for instance, failed to run a planned excerpt for fear of litigation.) "As a writer Gertrude had one fault more radical than all the rest: she did not know--or rather, did not believe--what it was like to be a human being. She was one, intermittently, but while she wasn't she did not remember what it had felt like to be one; and her worse self distrusted her better too thoroughly to give it much share, ever, in what she said or wrote." Pictures from an Institution is a superb series of poisonous portraits, set pieces, and endlessly quotable put-downs. One reads it less for plot than sharp satire, of which Jarrell is the master. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Her deliberate social wickednesses are some of the highlights of the book.
It is stuffed with satiric set pieces, gorgeously funny one-liners, and characters only slightly exaggerated from reality.
It does, sometimes, lag or lapse into sort of uninteresting side tales, but these are minor and not numerous.
Long, self-indulgent, obscure, pretentious, not interesting, not entertaining, silly, foolish, pedantic, boring (very, very boring), interminable, and most of all: a great waste of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by PAA
I read a lot of good books, both fiction and non-fiction. But it is rare that a book is so brilliant that it makes me feel dumb. Read morePublished 6 months ago by P. C. Salzman
Randall Jarrell clearly had polemical intent with this, his only novel, but his writing has transcended the situation and remains a deeply delightful book today. Read morePublished 8 months ago by With Favourable Winds
It's still in print, which tells you something. This is a book about Mary McCarthy's year teaching at Sarah Lawrence. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sheila Michaels
On a par with Wilde's "The Importance Of Being Earnest" and Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." You will, like Wilde, say "How I wish I had said that. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Steven E. Buster
This is satire of the American university scene, presumably in the 1950's. It's brilliant. The author, Randall Jarrell is a poet, and he may be close to the persona of the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by gregh
This is an amusing book, but it's not that great. It's "arch" to a fault, but it leads nowhere. Read morePublished 22 months ago by A. Marchant-Shapiro
I picked up this book due to its description as "A Comedy" on the cover, hoping for a 'Lucky Jim' type of entertainment set in the USA. Read morePublished 23 months ago by WAL
I couldn't get past the first chapter of this book, even though it is highly recommended. So, I passed it on and I'm sure someone will pick it up in a library sale and enjoy it.Published on January 23, 2013 by Pameladen