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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Very light staining to back cover. Clean, unmarked interior. Solid binding, light cover wear.
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The Principles of Uncertainty Paperback – October 27, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, Octhober 2007: In 2005 Maira Kalman brought a fresh vision to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, filling the pages of the reference classic with her whimsical illustrations. And much like its multi-talented creator--who has illustrated children's books and New Yorker covers and collaborated on fashion projects with Kate Spade and Isaac Mizrahi--her new book, The Principles of Uncertainty, defies easy classification. Is it philosophy? Art? Memoir? Travel? Sociology? The answer is All of the Above (and more). This charming collection of text, paintings, and photography presents a "profusely illustrated" year in a life, with illustrated musings that range from a young Nabokov "sitting innocently and elegantly in a red chair" to two stuffed rabbits in the window at Paris's Deyrolles taxidermy to Kitty Carlisle Hart at home in her "pearly pink palace." Delightful, inspiring, and often very moving, this little charmer is a a book you might find nestled on Wes Anderson's coffee table. --Brad Thomas Parsons --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers were not faint in their praise of The Principles of Uncertainty, even if they spent most of their energy attempting to describe it. And no wonder: the list of items that Maira Kalman describes in the book could almost fill a book itself, even without her illustrations. Readers who are unfamiliar with Kalman’s work but respond to even a few items on that list should probably take a look at Principles. Those who know her children’s books or illustrations will be excited to see her take on a broader range of topics, including “the images and confusion of the dreamworld [that] linger in our waking hours” and create deep emotion and consciousness from her art (New York Times Book Review). But as with any book, the most important question will be whether the imagesâ€"here, mostly visualâ€"affect the reader’s own perceptions of the world.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lesley Zampatti on January 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is such an unusual book: a pictorial monologue about a year in author/illustrator Maira Kalman's life, in which she tackles issues like life, death, family, history, travel, food and all the big philosophical questions of existence.
It has more than 300 pages, almost all of them with quirky Magritte-style illustrations that are often as humorous and charming as the text.
Maira Kalman's Jewish family fled Russia after the revolution and went to Palestine before settling in America. As I imagine many of those do whose families have endured lives fractured by the events of history, and so closely touched by atrocities like the Holocaust, Kalman seems never to take life for granted -- she often expresses her concern about the point of it all, and the mess so many people make of it.
But for all that, this book is imbued with Kalman's overriding and utter joy in being alive. Joy shines out of every page.
For example, while she's in Israel she writes of her despair about the embattled state of the Middle East, but once back home in New York she finds immediate reassurance and an antidote to her distress simply by observing the life on the streets -- the colours, the people, the eccentricities, the humanity of it all.
On other pages she'll share her delight in wonderful hats, bravely-dressed women, old people, the collections of weird objects she keeps at home, and many of the amazing sights she observes and records on her travels at home and abroad.
I'd love to meet her: from my reading I imagine a strong New York humour and an infectious fascination for the cities she loves.
Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't believe that there have only been two reviews of this book! It is a Maira Kalman book for grownups - for anyone who loves her childrens books - the wit, the art, the words - finally there is a picture book for us!
And, for a short period of time, the original paintings are on view at Julie Saul Gallery on 22nd St. in NYC. What a bonus!

In Principles of Uncertainty, Kalman touches on nearly every human emotion - yielding a book that is tender, tough, ironic, big-picture, "God is in the details", mellow, poignant, funny - you name it. In her deceptively naive paintings, she captures the essence of things - relationships, beauty, life cycles.

I went to see the exhibition at Julie Saul two times - and I would have gone 200 times. This will be one of those books that we will return to over and over again.
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Format: Hardcover
Kalman's illustrations accentuate her pithy prose. Her pictures seem derived from some other time, perhaps the Impressionist era in France? They have a 19th century vibe. Think Van Gogh. Imagine Monet.

Her thoughts spring from the page as she passes through her days. Each thought evokes a picture. In her observation of a life that is mostly "normal" (if there is such a thing) Kalman connects readers with the deep reservoirs of personal feeling that we frequently fail to recognize.

This is a lovely, one-of-a-kind volume that will delight as it subtly conjures up the emotions that lie just below the surface in every one of us. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
This book just arrived, I read it and am now ordering copies for many friends. This is a case of "less is more"--drawings and words are minimal, but the impact of whimsy and profoundness is great. It goes straight to the heart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this when it ran in the NY Times. I couldn't wait to have the wonderful drawings and subtle text in my possession. And then the book arrived. I was dumbfounded. Whoever designed it can't possibly have done a book of art before. Images spilling into gutters, no white space. Why? To save money? This should be reprinted by a publisher who can see what damage has been done to this wonderful work. It kills me to say it because the artist, Maira Kalman, deserves every bit of attention she can get and every nickel they pay her. But this book design is a travesty.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read each of the pieces in The Principles of Uncertainty as they were published in Times Select, I initially ordered three copies of this book--one for me, two for gifts. Now I've ordered a fourth--I want to give one to everyone I love. And I want to spend a day with Maira Kalman--of course with this book I can spend part of every day with her. I love this book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is such a sweet book. I have given it to everyone... friends, family - all ages.
I am getting through one of those years, many deaths in my family, and this book really helped me remember how grand life can be. Exquisite!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an irresistibly charming book. The quirky art & the naked perplexity of the author as she confronts life—its tragedies & its mitigating, if bittersweet pleasures--is honest and down-to-earth. Kalman reminds me a lot of Lynda Barry. Neither artist is concerned about looking or sounding profound or sophisticated. They both respond to the world the way we all do when we strip away our pretensions and our intellectualism and admit our ignorance, our fallibility, our wonder, and our fear. Approach this book in the same spirit and it will work its magic on you, too.
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