Jonathan Kozol Charles W. Mann, Jr. - Essay

Charles W. Mann, Jr.

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mr. Kozol shows me [in The Fume of Poppies] that I have underestimated the latent sexual impulse of the American coed. Mr. Kozol's graphic affair, one of extreme youth, is reminiscent of [Raymond Radiguet's] "Devil in the Flesh," with much flesh and very little devil. It carries a naive charm just a little too far. I applaud his ideals of sexual love but I'm slightly embarrassed to be drawn so intimately into his sexual fantasies. "Shacking up" is all very well but it hardly will hold an entire novel together. Making love from the chill woods of Maine to the West Porch of Chartres becomes enervating if not ludicrous. There is some effective, if brief, scene painting and let us hope that when the first careless rapture has passed, Mr. Kozol will try again. This should do wonders in paper covers.

Charles W. Mann, Jr., "New Books Appraised: 'The Fume of Poppies'," in Library Journal (reprinted from Library Journal, November 1, 1958; published by R. R. Bowker Co. (a Xerox company); copyright © 1958 by Xerox corporation), Vol. 83, No. 19, November 1, 1958, p. 3153.

[The narrator of The Fume of Poppies] is quite carried away by "the magic of sweet love making." It is an obsession with him, the centre of his universe, and, if The Fume of Poppies takes on some of the aspects of a Cook's tour, first of the Maine mountain country, then of Europe, no amount of territory on either side of the Atlantic is quite big enough to contain his adored Wendy.

Naturally such youthful fervour is riding for a fall, and the utter disillusion which overtakes him when he finds that Wendy has been unfaithful to him is only the reverse side of the same coin. Both the lyric love and the subsequent disillusion are expressed in language of clichéd intensity which this reviewer found somewhat nauseating.

"Love Gone Wrong," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1959; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3012, November 20, 1959, p. 673.∗