literature about Kirk and Burt, two great actors as well as persons.
Henryk Hoffmann’s recent work, The Careers of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Referenced in Literature: A Study in Film Perception, proves – like his previous volumes – that the author is an excellent film historian and a perceptive film critic. In this study, Hoffmann aims to show that Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas rank not only among America’s most respected movie stars but also that they have become iconic figures who are surprisingly often referred to in many literary works, including genre fiction as well as works by major American authors such as Updike, Pynchon or DeLillo. The author has managed to find references to the two actors and the movies featuring them in over 150 literary works, which shows that the cultural impact the two movie stars and their films have made is very significant. Hoffmann’s study, however, is much more than a reference book as it gives the readers a lot of interesting information on the two actor’s impressive film careers. It also includes many remarks on the interrelations between film and literature. Despite its largely encyclopedic character, Hoffmann’s study might prove interesting not only to film specialists but also to those readers who today remain fascinated with Lancaster’s and Douglas’s artistic creations.
This book is an invitation to enjoy the aesthetic pleasures offered by films and literature. Two iconic figures of American film industry Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas left us a legacy – a treasure trove of the American experience, values, and culture, including their artistic achievements. The reception, appreciation, interpretation, as well as functions and uses of these phenomena in modern American and partly foreign literature, is the main object of Henryk Hoffmann’s investigation.
The author shows an extensive and impressive knowledge of American film and literature and especially, the interrelations between them. The remarkable collection of data includes over 60 films and 150 literary works of more than 120 authors. The approach of this project is referential-analytic; that is, the body of collected literary references is analyzed in terms of their contextualized functions. Significantly, the structure, organization, and presentation of the analysis are clear and easily accessible, even for a general reader.
This book offers invaluable insights into what is important for the creators of modern American culture and what they import from film to literature and the other way around. Henryk Hoffmanns work is a significant contribution to the research on enculturation and cultural influence. It should inspire scholarly projects related to the two areas of study. In addition to its undeniable educational value, this book will certainly encourage the reader to see the magnificent and memorable films as well as read at least some of the books that refer to them.
Henryk Hoffmann’s new book is yet another stellar achievement from a scholar of great scope, painstaking work ethic and undiminished passion. By focusing on two icons of 20th century American manhood (Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) and showing how their cultural presence was both shaped and reinforced by literary references to their work, Hoffmann shows his deep understanding of American culture — as well as illuminates its often-overlooked aspects. The references Hoffmann meticulously tracks down and puts in proper context range from ones made to Lancaster and Douglas’ careers, physiques, talents — as well as to values they embodied. Two strong, burly types with unexpected layers of sensitivity, vulnerability (and even neurotic violence), Lancaster and Douglas navigated the cultural construct that is American manhood in formidable ways that often included transcultural elements (Douglas’ Russian-Jewish immigrant heritage gave unexpected inflection to his role as Roman slave Spartacus; Lancaster’s magisterial turn as a Sicilian prince in Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard” gave heft to a character as opposed to American democratic traditions as possible). By including a staggering scope of quotes from a wide range of fiction authors, Hoffmann’s book can serve as a great reference book, pointing its readers towards works that interpreted and evoked the presence of two of the most remarkable American actors of the Hollywood golden era. The book is also an apt companion to Hoffmann’s previous work, “Four Legends in World Literature: Bogart, Cooper, Gable and Tracy”.The book is of great value and will undoubtedly remain in perennial use for film and literature scholars alike (not to mention the many fans of each actors’ work).
Lancaster briefly about himself and Kirk
Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lancaster have by now established themselves as one of the memorable male teams of the movies -along with Tracy and Gable, Cagney and O’Brien, Newman and Redford. Before making ”Tough Guys,” they’d starred together in four other films, a stage play, and even in a musical benefit at the London Palladium. ”People seem to feel there’s a certain chemistry between us,” Mr. Lancaster says
Kirk Douglas (born December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020)
Burton Stephen Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994 )