Bernays, Anne 1930–
Bernays, Anne 1930–
(Anne Bernays Kaplan)
PERSONAL: Born September 14, 1930, in New York, NY; daughter of Edward L. and Doris (Fleischman) Bernays; married Justin D. Kaplan (a writer/biographer), 1954; children: Susanna Bernays, Hester Margaret, Polly Anne. Education: Attended Wellesley College, 1948–50; Barnard College, B.A., 1952.
ADDRESSES: Home—Cambridge, MA and Truro, Cape Cod, MA. Home and office—16 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138. Office—The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lippmann House, One Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, novelist, editor, and educator. Discovery, New York City, managing editor, 1952–54; Houghton Mifflin Co., New York City, editorial assistant, 1955–57; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, technical writer, 1972; Buckingham-Browne and Nichols School, Cambridge, MA, instructor, 1972–73; Brookline High School, Brookline, MA, instructor, 1973–74; Commonwealth School, Boston, MA, instructor, 1974–76; Harvard Extension Program, instructor, 1977–92; Nieman Foundation, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, instructor, 1993–. Emerson College, Boston, MA, prose writer-in-residence, 1976–77, and 1980–81; University of Massachusetts, visiting writer, 1985; Boston College, visiting lecturer, 1991–92; College of the Holy Cross, visiting lecturer, 1988–89, Jenks Professor of contemporary letters, 1992–95; Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Italy, resident, 1990; Boston University College of Communications, lecturer, 1997. National Book Awards panelist, 1991; member, Nieman Fellowship selection panel, 1993, and 2002.
MEMBER: PEN (cofounder, New England chapter, 1978), Century Association, National Writers Union (member of advisory board).
The New York Ride, Trident Press (New York, NY), 1965.
Prudence, Indeed, Trident Press (New York, NY), 1966.
The First to Know, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1975.
Growing Up Rich, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1975, Scribner's (New York, NY), 1986.
The School Book, Harper (New York, NY), 1980.
The Address Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1983.
Professor Romeo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (New York, NY), 1989.
Trophy House, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Short Pleasures (short stories), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1962.
(With Pamela Painter) What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990, 2nd edition, Pearson Longman (New York, NY), 2004.
(Author of introduction) Mark Twain, Merry Tales, Oxford University Press, (New York, NY), 1996.
(With husband, Justin D. Kaplan) The Language of Names, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Justin D. Kaplan) Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York (memoir), William Morrow, 2002.
Contributor of articles to journals. Harvard Magazine, contributing editor, 1976–85.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist Anne Bernays's works frequently center around female protagonists and repeatedly contain elements of a collegiate environment. Bernays's first novel, The New York Ride, is a "witty, sophisticated and sardonic look" at young people in the 1960s, described a Publishers Weekly critic in 1966. The New York Ride follows Mary and her friend Betsy throughout their collegiate travels abroad, to their post-graduate life, and into marriage, "searching for happiness thereafter," recounted New York Times contributor Charles Poore. Poore noted that the "novel has a special interest, an unusual perspective…. Bernays has a good gift for phrasing…. Granted that post-Gatsby revels have been done to death in our literature. Nevertheless, Miss Bernays can still revive their gruesome lividness." Martin Levin stated in the New York Times Book Review that the novel is written in a "diaristic, descriptive style."
Bernays's second novel, Prudence, Indeed, focuses on social worker/psychologist Sophie and her marriage. Thomas Lask wrote in the New York Times that "Miss Bernays has a bright, perky style, a sharp eye for locating the weakness in her people, and a knack for letting them reveal those weaknesses."
Growing Up Rich describes the life change of a fourteen-year-old girl who moves from an affluent lifestyle to the home of middle class foster parents after her parents die in a plane crash. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Bernays "an entertaining writer." A critic for Time called the story a "brilliantly written, hard-edged novel of adolescence with … an oddly sentimental conclusion to a bitter book, and precisely the kind that Dickens would have approved."
"Professor Romeo, a tale of sexual harassment on a university campus, is a novel with a topical subject and a provocative twist," Eva Hoffman wrote in her New York Times review of the book. The male protagonist, Harvard professor Jacob Barker, is unique to the traditionally female perspectives of both Bernays's novels and harassment discussions. According to Molly Hite in the Women's Review of Books, Professor Romeo "attempts the delicate balancing act of conveying the attitudes that allow the harasser to believe he is engaged in a fundamentally consensual and indeed contractual exchange." Hoffman noted that, "unfortunately, in Jacob, [Bernays] has created a protagonist so charmless, fatuous, and self-deceived that he strains suspension of disbelief and the novel's perspective, closely identified with him, flounders between a rather puzzling case study and simple farce." Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in the New York Times Book Review stated that the novel "is vivid in academic flavor, strong in theme, sharp in its perceptions, alert to emotional contradictions."
Trophy House, Bernays's eighth novel, is "a sprightly, feminist there-is-life-after-divorce tale," noted Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman. Dannie Faber, a book illustrator, spends many contented hours working in her secluded Cape Cod home, while her husband, an anthropology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lives and works in Boston. Her son and daughter are grown, and she is free to concentrate on her career while reassessing her own life and relationship. Her idyllic life on the Cape is disturbed when a wealthy neighbor, a hotel magnate, begins building an opulent beachfront home nearby, disrupting the community with not only the frenzy of building, but with the ostentatious display of wealth the titular trophy house presents. Despite dissatisfaction with the house, Dannie's friend Raymie finds herself falling for the owner, who is not as arrogant as he at first seems to be. Adding more turmoil, Dannie comes to realize that her own marriage has reached its end, and as her husband leaves, her daughter moves back in, herself injured by a failed relationship. As Dannie begins a tentative but illicit affair with publisher David, the new relationship promises to reignite emotions that Dannie had long thought dormant. A Publishers Weekly writer observed that "readers will bond with Bernays's prickly, opinionated, bighearted heroine." Bernays's "skillful use of dialogue and insight into life's complexities" result in a novel that is "wonderfully entertaining," noted Kara Murphy in People. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "elegantly readable and sardonically perceptive; literary fiction that doesn't put on airs." Library Journal contributor Nanci Milone Hill noted that, with her novel, Bernays "turns her pen toward questions of character and fate and offers readers a portrait of how a marriage either prospers—or ends."
Bernays collaborated with her husband, Justin D. Kaplan, to write The Language of Names, a book which "covers such topics as movie star names, maiden names, ethnic-group names, androgynous names, corporate names, name changes, name etiquette, and literary names," reported Adam Goodheart in the Washington Post. "Rarely has the fundamental human function of naming received such an energetic, enlightening, and engaging treatment," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. "Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Bernays's approach is genial, light-handed, as if engaging the reader in party conversation," remarked Marina Warner in the New York Times Book Review.
Bernays and Kaplan collaborated again with Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York, a memoir of the couple's earlier days as young professionals in the city. In a narrative consisting of alternating chapters written by each author individually, without input from the other, Bernays and Kaplan share their thoughts and experiences with growing up privileged in the city, she from New York's Upper East Side, he from the city's West Side. They relate their stories of being educated at expensive schools. They discuss heady years as gifted and wealthy single adults, undertaking careers in the publishing world, meeting each other, and embarking on their life together. Their descriptions include many detailed observations and anecdotes about what it was like to live and work in a vibrant, growing city during the 1950s. They describe the literary and entertainment giants of the time and how their lives intersected with greats such as William Faulkner and Marilyn Monroe. Their "chatty, personal tone renders this name-dropping extravaganza welcoming and informal," commented Danise Hoover in Booklist. "Well written and thoughtful, this memoir gives a nice flavor of urban cultural life in the 1950s," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "In a lighthearted style, this work says much about all the things that made the 1950s a unique decade in American life," observed Library Journal contributor Charles C. Nash.
In an interview in Publishers Weekly, Bernays remarked that the memoir was a welcome change-of-pace from her usual vocation of fiction. "Nonfiction writing takes a much more muscular thought process," she stated. "I like it because it makes me feel smart, whereas when I'm writing fiction, I'm just telling a story and I don't necessarily have to be smart."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bloomsbury Review, March, 1991, review of What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers,p. 15.
Booklist, May 15, 2002, Danise Hoover, review of Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York, p. 1567; July, 2005, Donna Seaman, review of Trophy House, p. 1896; December 15, 2005, Barbara Baskin, review of Trophy House, p. 57.
Entertainment Weekly, June 14, 2002, Allyssa Lee, review of Back Then, p. 92.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1965, review of The New York Ride, p. 508; September 1, 1966, review of Prudence, Indeed, p. 925; July 15, 1975, review of Growing up Rich, p. 790; April 15, 2002, review of Back Then, p. 537; May 15, 2005, review of Trophy House, p. 555.
Library Journal, May 1, 2002, Charles C. Nash, review of Back Then, p. 99; July 1, 2005, Nanci Milone Hill, review of Trophy House, p. 63.
New York Times, June 26, 1965, review of The New York Ride, p. 27; February 18, 1967, review of Prudence, Indeed, p. 27; July 19, 1989, Eva Hoffman, review of Professor Romeo, p. C19.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 1966, review of Prudence, Indeed, p. 70; October 5, 1975, review of Growing up Rich, p. 48; August 3, 1980, Anne Tyler, review of The School Book, p. 14; July 23, 1989, Malcolm Bradbury, review of Professor Romeo, pp. 1, 26; February 16, 1997, Marina Warner, review of The Language of Names, p. 7; June 9, 2002, David Walton, "Gotham When They Were Young," review of Back Then, section 7, p. 15.
People, August 22, 2005, Kara Murphy, review of Trophy House, p. 50.
Publishers Weekly, May 9, 1966, review of The New York Ride, p. 81; December 9, 1996, review of The Language of Names, p. 52; May 6, 2002, review of Back Then, p. 48; June 24, 2002, Wendy Smith, "A New York Love Story: Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan," profile of Anne Bernays, p. 32; June 13, 2005, review of Trophy House, p. 29.
Time, October 20, 1975, review of Growing up Rich, p. 93; June 24, 2002, Andrea Sachs, "A '50s Feeling: Authors Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan Write a Luminous Memoir about Their Mid-Century Youth," review of Back Then.
Village Voice, October 8, 1980, review of The School Book, p. 47.
Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2002, Hilton Kramer, "Different Ways of Remembering," review of Back Then, p. D7.
Washington Post, February 3, 1997, Adam Goodheart, review of The Language of Names.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1989, review of Professor Romeo, p. 6.