Outside: Selected writings, by Marguerite Duras. Translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer. Boston: Beacon Press. 247 pp. $9.95. Fans of Marguerite Duras's many novels, including ``The Lover,'' ``The War'' and more recently ``Blue Eyes, Black Hair,'' will be interested in this collection of her journalism, brief articles written in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, whenever she was between book projects. It says something more about these articles that even those not enamored of her fiction may well find this collection interesting. The subject matter ranges from celebrity interviews with the likes of Margot Fonteyn, Francis Bacon, and Leontyne Price to coverage of famous criminal trials; from book and film reviews to charming interviews with children; from a dialogue with a Carmelite nun to an expos'e of the racism experienced by Algerian workers in '50s Paris. The styles of these articles are almost as varied as their topics, although Duras's penchant for the dramatic is evident in all. But there are also moments of comedy, as when a seven-year-old boy, asked why he wishes he could stay a child, replies, ``Because when I'm grown up I'll have to take an interest in politics. I'd rather have time to think.'' The Diary and Letters of Kaethe Kollwitz, edited by Hans Kollwitz. Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. 267 pp. Illustrated. $15.95 paperback; $39.95 hard cover.Skip to next paragraph
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Kaethe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was a leading German Expressionist, part of a movement whose works were denounced as ``degenerate'' by the Hitler regime. Married to an idealistic physician who worked among the poor of Berlin, Kollwitz portrayed their fears and hopes in her art. The themes of war and death were also very close to her heart: She was by conviction a pacifist. Kollwitz lost a son in World War I and a grandson in World War II. Personally self-effacing, she believed that her work, not her personal life, was of paramount importance.
In these diaries and letters, edited by her son Hans, we manage to catch a glimpse of the person behind the work: an affectionate wife and mother, an artist who struggled with problems of her craft and with her own changing moods, and a life-long lover of the works of Goethe.
The book begins with a pair of brief, but informative narratives by Kollwitz herself of her childhood and later life. The diaries and letters that follow are scrappy - not really an adequate reflection of the woman or her times - but poignant nonetheless. More than 50 black-and-white plates of her etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, and sketches conclude the book, enabling us to study that part of her life she believed most important: her powerfully expressive work. Encyclopaedia of the Musical Film, by Stanley Green. New York: Oxford University Press. 344 pp. $13.95.
Which songs were sung in which movies? Who wrote them? Who first sang them? This handy guidebook alphabetically lists songs from films (including both musical films like ``Gigi'' and ``Singin' in the Rain'' and theme songs from such nonmusical films as ``Goldfinger'' and ``The Days of Wine and Roses''), as well as composers, lyricists, singers, dancers, actors, directors, writers, and choreographers. Not only does the author provide lots of information, but he also has an adroit way with adjectives, making his descriptions of songs, films, and people a real pleasure to read. A Bright Particular Star: A Biography of Gertrude Lawrence, by Sheridan Morley. London: Pavilion/Michael Joseph, dist. by Viking Penguin, N.Y. 228 pp. Illustrated. $9.95.
Her singing was uncertain on high notes, her acting could be uneven. She danced very well, but without the discipline of the best dancers. Yet to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic (her native London and her adopted New York), Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952) practically defined the word ``star.'' She was sprightly, scintillating, elegant, and incandescent, shining in such plays as ``Tonight at 8:30,'' ``Lady in the Dark,'' and ``The King and I.'' She loved to perform and it showed.
The woman for whom No"el Coward wrote his sparkling comedy ``Private Lives'' claimed she had no private life: Her talents were more suited to the stage than the everyday world. Sheridan Morley, author of a life of Lawrence's friend and admirer No"el Coward, has written a lively account of her triumphant professional career and her difficult personal life. He is sympathetic, but not sycophantic. Beyond the Looking Glass: Extraordinary Works of Fairy Tale and Fantasy, edited with an introduction by Jonathan Cott. Special introductory essay by Leslie Fiedler. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press/Tusk Book. 519 pp. Illustrated. $10.95.
The Victorian Age, which saw the triumph of rationalism, industrialism, and the notion of Progress, also produced a rich vein of fantasy literature, as if to compensate. This collection of 10 works includes Ruskin's ``King of the Golden River,'' a satirical fantasy by Tom Hood (son of the somewhat better known Thomas Hood), Christina Rossetti's astonishing poem ``Goblin Market,'' and two stories by the visionary George MacDonald, as well as tales by Mary de Morgan, Mark Lemon, Maggie Brown, and Lucy Lane Clifford.
Victorian illustrators are also featured, including Richard Doyle, Arthur Hughes, William de Morgan (brother of Mary), and Laurence Housman (A.E. Housman's brother), whose pictures for ``Goblin Market'' are quite as eerie as the poem itself.