Pictures From an Institution

Randall Jarrell

Published by Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN 10: 9997405889 / ISBN 13: 9789997405883
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Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. Bookseller Inventory #

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Beneath the unassuming surface of a progressive women’s college lurks a world of intellectual pride and pomposity awaiting devastation by the pens of two brilliant and appalling wits. Randall Jarrell’s classic novel was originally published to overwhelming critical acclaim in 1954, forging a new standard for campus satire—and instantly yielding comparisons to Dorothy Parker’s razor-sharp barbs. Like his fictional nemesis, Jarrell cuts through the earnest conversations at Benton College—mischievously, but with mischief nowhere more wicked than when crusading against the vitriolic heroine herself.

“A most literate account of a group of most literate people by a writer of power. . . . A delight of true understanding.”—Wallace Stevens

“I’m greatly impressed by the real fun, the incisive satire, the closeness of observation, and in the end by a kind of sympathy and human warmth. It’s a remarkable book.”—Robert Penn Warren

“Move over Dorothy Parker. Pictures . . . is less a novel than a series of poisonous portraits, set pieces, and endlessly quotable put-downs. Read it less for plot than sharp satire, Jarrell’s forte.”—Mary Welp

“One of the wittiest books of modern times.”—New York Times

“[T]he father of the modern campus novel, and the wittiest of them all. Extraordinary to think that ‘political correctness’ was so deliciously dissected 50 years ago.”—Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

“A sustained exhibition of wit in the great tradition. . . . Immensely and very devastatingly shrewd.”—Edmund Fuller, Saturday Review

“[A] work of fiction, and a dizzying and brilliant work of social and literary criticism. Not only ‘a unique and serious joke-book,’ as Lowell called it, but also a meditation made up of epigrams.”—Michael Wood

Review: Randall Jarrell's only novel features a Bryn Mawr-like women's college in which whispers and verbal shivs and sycophancy rule. "Half the campus was designed by Bottom the Weaver, half by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Benton had been endowed with one to begin with, and had smiled and sweated and spoken for the other." The institution's star-struck head is a Clintonesque young man particularly adept at raising money in Hollywood and who "wanted you to like him, he wanted everybody to like him--it was part of being a president; but talking all the time was too." Unfortunately, his new creative-writing hire only likes him the first time they meet. Thenceforth, she not only stirs things up but skewers them as well.

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.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Pictures From an Institution
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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Randall Jarrell
Published by Alfred A. Knopf (1954)
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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1954. Book Condition: Good. 1st. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP34534354

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Acceptable. First Edition. 9997405889 First Edition stated, Dust jacket wrapped- jacket has rubbing and small chipping to edges- jacket price not clipped, clean, has a good binding, "Dargan Jones 1954" written on front end page (previous Bryn Mawr professor) but no other marks or notations. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1014521

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1954. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Bookseller Inventory # P029997405889

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1954. Hardcover. Book Condition: Like New. Almost new condition. Bookseller Inventory # P019997405889

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1954. Hardcover. Book Condition: Collectible: Very Good. First Edition. First edition inscribed by the author (on behalf of his second wife and children) on front free endpaper to his friend Harvard literary scholar Herschel Baker and his family in black ink. 277 p. + note on the type. Turquoise cloth with gilt lettering on spine. Near Fine in about Very Good dust jacket. Jacket spine panel sunned, head chipped, worn along edges with some tears along fold of front panel repaired with archival mending tissue on verso, unclipped ($3.50). Jarrell's only novel, an academic satire. Bookseller Inventory # 160503004

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