The Shock of Recognition

The academic presses are often the source of the most exciting books, though these volumes too often escape the notice of the larger public. Robert Wallace's study of Melville and Turner will no doubt find its place in university libraries, but I think such a work should be included in community and private libraries, since what it says and implies ought to be of concern these days to many who are not graduate students. If war is too important to leave to the generals, culture is too important to delegate to seminars—or ovulars, as the case may be.

Professor Wallace of Northern Kentucky University has produced another scholarly work that is insightful, stirring, interdisciplinary, and extraordinarily suggestive—as we have come to expect from him. His first book, A Century of Music-Making: The Lives of Josef and Rosina Lhevinne (1976), was a double biography and remains an indisputable source for the music-lover and a treat for the piano buff. Wallace's Jane Austen and Mozart: Classical Equilibrium in Fiction and Music (1983) dared to undertake a comparison that naturally suggests itself, but which no one had ever pursued in such an extended fashion. That book teaches us much about Mozart as well as about Jane Austen; but even better it demonstrates something vital about the culture of the day as suggested in the constructions of two great artists. It remains one of the best books ever written...

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