Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Disraeli: A Biography -- Stanley Weintraub

Universities are known to whine that their tenured professors don't publish. This could never be said about Pennsylvania State University professor Stanley Weintraub, author of some 40 serious books, many on late 19th century literary giants. But as prolific a writer as Weintraub is, it is a bit of a wonder that his dense 700-page life story of Benjamin Disraeli isn't a smoother read. Though thorough -- detailing the only Jewish British Prime Minister's life from childhood to the exact moment of his death on April 19, 1881, at 76 years old -- Disraeli: A Biography, published first in 1993, is choppy, if precise. Chronicling his years in sequential order, it seems like the author is afraid to omit any trifling fact in the rough source material he employed to complete the work. His liberal use of quotation marks is to the point of excessive, often interrupting the flow of sentences. It's as if the book is meant to be studied as opposed to read leisurely, which perhaps is excusable since the author was an esteemed professor for more than three decades.