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While Rome Burns (Inglese) Copertina rigida – ott 1988

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Book by Woolcott Alexander

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2 di 3 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Anecdotes and musings from a long gone era 31 dicembre 2013
Di Elizabeth J. Brown - Pubblicato su
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Alexander Woollcott (1887-1943) was a writer, humorist, essayist and radio host of the 1920s and 30s. He was quite popular in his day, but this sort of figure really doesn't exist in American life anymore. Woollcott is now largely forgotten, except perhaps as the inspiration for writer Sheridan Whiteside in the 1939 Kaufman-Hart play, "The Man Who Came To Dinner," and columnist Waldo Lydecker in the 1944 film noir, "Laura." Both those characters were acid-tongued and vitriolic. Woollcott was like that at times, but he could also be a sentimental marshmallow.

Woollcott wrote many books, but "While Rome Burns" (1934) is one of his better known, mainly because his shameless plugs for it on the radio made it a best seller. It is light reading to be sure, but there's nothing wrong with that, especially if the writing and subjects are this colorful. It's a collection of previously published anecdotes and modern fables which can be read in any order. Woollcott enjoys a good ghost story (The Vanishing Lady"); he writes warmly of his good friend Harpo Marx and sketches other friends and contemporaries, and he writes rather breathlessly of several true crimes, grouped under the heading, "It May Be Human Gore." As enjoyable as all this is, the really immortal essay in "While Rome Burns" is "Hands Across the Sea." It's about mysterious searches of soldiers in a barracks in WWI, and is unsettling but very well written.

Memories of Woollcott and his contemporaries are fading, and none of them seem poised for the kind of renewed interest that would launch a full-scale revival. Neither he nor Dorothy Parker, nor Robert Benchley nor anyone else at the Algonquin Round Table ever wrote anything that can be mentioned in the same breath with Joyce, Shaw or Faulkner. Woollcott was a fine storyteller whose style has dated less than that of many of his fellows. Eighty years have made his observations of human nature, his true witticisms and often well-placed barbs no less trenchant or relevant, or amusing.
26 di 28 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle ESSAYS AND ARTICLES BY A LEADING WIT OF THE '30's 27 luglio 2004
Di Loren D. Morrison - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida
As indicated in my title, Alexander Woolcott was described in his lifetime as "a first-class reporter, a great story-teller, a fine writer, and a leading wit of {his} time." His articles appeared in the "New Yorker", "Colliers", and "Cosmopolitan" and various other popular magazines of his era. The stories and essays included in __WHILE ROME BURNS__ are dated from the late '20's to the early to mid '30's. For those of us who grew up a bit later in the century, they give some idea of what a great time we missed.

In an article titled "Our Miss Parker," he relates some of his personal experiences with another great wit of the time, Dorothy Parker. He tells of the time she substituted for Bennet Cerf in his position as a theater critic. Her review of the play, THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL consisted of a single line, "THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL is the play lousy." Another time Woolcott went to visit Mrs Parker in the hospital, where she was ready to be released but was delaying leaving the hospital because she couldn't pay the bill. (Mrs Parker delayed doing most of her writing until she had to do so in order to pay her rent or, as in this case, had to come up with money immediately for something major.) She was propped up in her bed with her typewriter on her lap working on an article for one of the magazines which published her work. When Cerf came in she greeted him and almost immediately rang for the nurse. Suspecting that perhaps she needed some sort of service that required privacy, he offered to wait outside her room. Her response was, "No, it is supposed to fetch the night nurse, so I ring it whenever I want an hour of uninterrupted privacy." One other example of her rather acidic wit was when a friend tried to sneak up behind her on a major New York shopping street and frighten her. She evidently saw his reflection in the glass window as he approached, so she turned and in her loudest voice began to shout at him that no, she wouldn't give him another cent and that he had already bled her dry. She kept this up until she drew a crowd, and he had to slink off with his eyes diverted to the ground. Most people learned very quickly that she was the master of "the game."

One of the articles is devoted to Charlie Chaplin, who Woolcot considered the finest silent actor of all time. Along with praising Chaplin, Woolcott makes no bones about his feeling that these new "talkies" are going to ruin moving pictures. (I guess no one can win them all.)

There are articles of nostalgia for people, animals, and places long gone, and also for plays and books that have meant something to him. One play that he couldn't praise highly enough was "Journey's End" which takes place entirely in the trenches of World War One. From his description of the conversations and relationships of these mostly doomed foot soldiers, it sounds very much like a play that I would like to see revived. I have a feeling that this play, written around 1929 to 1930 contains some universal truths.

On that note, I'd like to conclude with saying that this is the sort of book that, even though it had at least 18 prointings between 1934 and 1936, deserves another reprinting now for the kind of audience that enjoys knowing about life in the fairly recent past, and enjoys reading well written stories, memoirs, and articles about that life.
4.0 su 5 stelle While Rome Burns by Woollcott 9 marzo 2016
Di Marc Severson - Pubblicato su
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Rates right up there with the great raconteur books such as those by Bennett Cerf. It takes a little while to adapt to Woollcott's writing style but his insight into a historic time is invaluable.
4.0 su 5 stelle I enjoy many of the "Round table" writers 28 maggio 2015
Di susiedoug - Pubblicato su
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I am enjoying reading While Rome Burns. I enjoy many of the "Round table" writers.
5.0 su 5 stelle Great experience 20 settembre 2015
Di Regina Y. Raiford - Pubblicato su
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The book came very quickly and was just as described.

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