Peter Ustinov Critical Essays

Ustinov, Peter

Ustinov, Peter 1921–

An award-winning British writer of Russian extraction, Ustinov is a playwright, novelist, and script writer, as well as an actor and director. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 13-14.)

Peter Ustinov [is] a one-man conglomerate…. While I admire Ustinov the actor, I have reservations about the dramatist and novelist. Mr. Ustinov is a thinking man with a satiric mind and a strong desire to slash out the false in society. Unfortunately, he does not have self-control. Those talents which cause admirers of his appearances on TV talk shows to label him "raconteur" diminish the impact of his writing.

In Krumnagel [protagonist of the novel of that title], Ustinov has picked a target worth shooting, but he weakens his firepower with volleys at side targets that catch his eye as he moves along. Continuously, like some all-wise and knowing father, Ustinov steps into his story to sermonize or take a swipe at anything or anyone. As a result one ends up unsatisfied and not quite certain what the author was up to in the first place. Certainly, his literary bite has lost its edge by the end of the novel.

Haskel Frankel, in Saturday Review, November 13, 1971, pp. 67-8.