by David Michaelis |
REVIEWED BY JONATHAN DURBIN
Charles M. Schulz was America's pre-eminent pop philosopher, loved by millions for his depictions of Charlie Brown and friends. Yet as Michaelis's exhaustive, fascinating biography shows, Schulz was an intensely sad man who never trusted his success and never forgot an insult. His melancholy infused Peanuts, as in the strips that dealt directly—through Charlie and Lucy—with his affair and subsequent divorce. Author Michaelis convincingly argues that Peanuts reflected mid-century America: "It was now clear that in 'a medium ... which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome,' as T.S. Eliot said of television, 'Good ol' Charlie Brown' could be king." If Charlie Brown felt isolated, it was only as a reflection of his creator.