The Anatomy of Harpo Marx by Wayne Koestenbaum

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In The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Koestenbaum...attempts a deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic, shot-by-shot exegesis of the work of the one member of the famous comedy team the Marx Brothers who never spoke.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

The Anatomy of Harpo Marx is a luxuriant, detailed play-by-play account of Harpo Marx’s physical movements as captured on screen. Wayne Koestenbaum guides us through the thirteen Marx Brothers films, from The Cocoanuts in 1929 to Love Happy in 1950, to focus on Harpo’s chief and yet heretofore unexplored attribute—his profound and contradictory corporeality. Koestenbaum celebrates the astonishing range of Harpo’s body—its kinks, sexual multiplicities, somnolence, Jewishness, "cute" pathos, and more. In a virtuosic performance, Koestenbaum’s text moves gracefully from insightful analysis to cultural critique to autobiographical musing, and provides Harpo with a host of odd bedfellows, including Walter Benjamin and Barbra Streisand.
 

About Wayne Koestenbaum

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Wayne Koestenbaum is an American poet and cultural critic. He received a BA from Harvard University, an MA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from Princeton University. He lives in New York City, where he is Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
 
Published February 29, 2012 by University of California Press. 312 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Globe and Mail

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Reviewed by JOE QUEENAN on May 11 2012

In The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Koestenbaum...attempts a deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic, shot-by-shot exegesis of the work of the one member of the famous comedy team the Marx Brothers who never spoke.

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