Ardent Spirits (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Ardent Spirits begins its narrative just after Reynolds Price’s father has died of lung cancer at fifty-four and Price has been awarded a Rhodes scholarship to study in England at Oxford University. Already determined to be a scholar and writer, the precocious Price embarks on his first major journey. He is concerned about leaving his mother and younger brother but also driven to make his mark by ambitiously attempting to write both short fiction and a major study of Milton’s poetry.
Academia never quite suits Price, even though he will remain in it all his working life. Thus, his academic study of Milton seems in this memoir to be more an idea than a fully realized project. Price seems far more engrossed in his fictioneven when he puts off writing it to fulfill academic requirements. As narrator, Price provides wonderful insight into his younger self, the budding young writer trying to make a name for himself who nearly gets into serious trouble when two journals accept the same story for publication.
Although Price studies hard at Oxford, he also engages in a full social life, making a few lifetime friendships and taking the time to tour Italy with a British friend. Price portrays himself as an earnest young man already encouraged by major writers such as Eudora Welty and renowned scholars such as Lord David Cecil. Cecil comes alive as a caring teacher very much attuned to his student’s sensibility. He is also an excitable...
(The entire section is 1666 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 17 (May 1, 2009): 56.
Boston Globe, May 24, 2009, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 7 (April 1, 2009): 366.
Library Journal 134, no. 6 (April 1, 2009): 76.
Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2009, p. E5.
The New York Review of Books, July 2, 2009, pp. 22-23.
The New York Times, May 13, 2009, p. C4.
The New York Times Book Review, May 17, 2009, p. 8.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 13 (March 31, 2009): 42.
Washington Post, May 4, 2009, p. 9.
(The entire section is 53 words.)