Book Reviews

What the critics are saying about Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels (2012):

“Devotees of America’s surrealist. . . are in for a welcome surprise this holiday season. . . . The results, more than 10 years in the making, are marvelous indeed.  The contents come in a faux-wooden box, lined in blue, with a red ribbon inside – to be unpacked like the pieces of a board game. . . . The facsimile volume is endlessly entertaining on its own, but the context the essays and footnotes provide is essential for grasping the countless references and external influences as well as the work’s place in Cornell’s body of art as a whole. . . . Leppanen-Guerra’s essay on the influence of children’s books is the most engaging.”  — Julie Bloom, The New York Times, December 2, 2012

“Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels is a bolt from the blue – an essential achievement until now virtually unknown. . . . The result is a brilliant (and I think nearly unprecedented) combination of old and new technologies.  The facsimile conveys some of the sensuous feel of the original, so that a reader can appreciate the immediacy of cut-outs offering glimpses of later pages and the surprise of origami elements that give the pages a rich dimensionality. . . . Analisa Leppanen-Guerra makes a strong case for the coherence of Cornell’s thought, with the earthbound setting of an agricultural text used as the jumping-off point for speculative flights about the creative spirits he admired.  Leppanen-Guerra is a strikingly convincing and original voice in the already crowded literature on Cornell. . . . I think she does a better job than any writer before her of showing how Cornell’s lifelong involvement with Christian Science and the thought of Mary Baker Eddy grounded his aesthetic.”  — Jed Perl, The New Republic, December 5, 2012

“Getting this [book] in the mail and opening it was early Christmas for this art/book lover. The Manual of Marvels comes in a specially designed box with a magnetic closure that opens to reveal two books and a DVD. Pulling on a shiny red ribbon lifts the books from the box. . . . All in all, countless hours of discovery, education and enjoyment are assured. It is the perfect gift for the art/book lover on your list. Oh, and get one for yourself as well.”  Jane Chafin, The Huffington Post, November 28, 2012

Praise for Children’s Stories and “Child-Time” in the Works of Joseph Cornell and the Transatlantic Avant-Garde (2011):

“Various writers in the past have touched on Joseph Cornell’s fascination with childhood, and on play and toys as subjects in his work, but there has not yet been a study which deals with the subject head-on. This book is among the best in the rich literature on Cornell.”  — David Hopkins, University of Glasgow, UK

“The peculiar facts of Joseph Cornell’s life have long informed analyses of his oeuvre. . . . As a result, most scholars of Cornell read his unusual artistic output – his toy-like wooden boxes, collages, diaries and ‘dossiers’ (paper explorations of specific subjects) – as expressions of the artist’s personal traumas.  In her new book, Analisa Leppanen-Guerra provides a welcome alternative to this, offering instead several theoretical interpretations of Cornell’s work while also situating him convincingly within the avant-garde thought of his time.”  — Celia White, The Burlington Magazine, June 2012

“Leppanen-Guerra provides an amazingly detailed and interesting evaluation of Cornell’s work. She clearly situates him within the transatlantic avant-garde movement and highlights this artist’s fascinating perspective on childhood. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in adaptations of children’s literature, children in art, and representations of childhood, maturation, and gendered identities.”  — Katherine Whitehurst, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Winter 2012

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