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Aren't you allowing yourself to judge this little boy a bit too astringently? I know you must have reasons which I don't know of.
As historian Paul Leland Haworth astringently wrote in his 1912 study Reconstruction and Union, Stevens "possessed much of the sternness of the old Puritans, without their morality."
Aaronetta's strangled declaration to Theodore -- "Sometimes I wish Cora would die!" -- followed by a tearful and desperate apology, typifies the clear-sighted but sympathetic wisdom into the complicated ways of the heart that infuses Osborn's writing, which is particularly well served by Franz's astringently moving performance.
It was a biographical reluctance borne of shame--not shame of Holmes but shame of the academy's own complicity in what Alschuler astringently calls Holmes' "beatification." And of course the longer the complete biographies were delayed, the more the beatification set in.
That figure was Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was led by his horrific experience of the war to an astringently materialist skepticism, and Wilson very pointedly ends his book with a chapter on the legendary jurist and Supreme Court justice.
His attractive instrumental sonorities and avoidance of sentimentality give this astringently lyrical music an almost post-modern freshness.