Essays on Art & Literature
"Poets must read and study, but also they must learn to tilt and whisper, shout, or dance, each in his or her own way, or we might just as well copy the old books. But, no, that would never do, for always the new self swimming around in the old world feels itself uniquely verbal. And that is just the point: how the world, moist and bountiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. 'Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?' This book is my comment."--from the Foreword
With consummate craftsmanship, Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, has created a volume sure to add to her reputation as "one of our very best poets" (New York Times Book Review).
Kandinsky's ideas are presented in two parts. The first part, called "About General Aesthetic," issues a call for a spiritual revolution in painting that will let artists express their own inner lives in abstract, non-material terms. Just as musicians do not depend upon the material world for their music, so artists should not have to depend upon the material world for their art. In the second part, "About Painting," Kandinsky discusses the psychology of colors, the language of form and color, and the responsibilities of the artist. An Introduction by the translator, Michael T. H. Sadler, offers additional explanation of Kandinsky's art and theories, while a new Preface by Richard Stratton discusses Kandinsky's career as a whole and the impact of the book. Making the book even more valuable are nine woodcuts by Kandinsky himself that appear at the chapter headings.
This English translation of Über das Geistige in der Kunst was a significant contribution to the understanding of nonobjectivism in art. It continues to be a stimulating and necessary reading experience for every artist, art student, and art patron concerned with the direction of 20th-century painting.
Now available for the first time in the United States, Bamboo gathers together Boyd's writing on literature, art, the movie business, television, and autobiographical reflections on his African childhood, his years at boarding school, and the writing life. From Kurt Vonnegut to the Cannes Film Festival, from Charles Dickens to Catherine Deneuve, from mini-cabs to Cecil Rhodes, this collection is a fascinating and surprisingly revealing companion to the work of one of Britain's leading novelists.
Fantastically intelligent, inspired, and surprising, Touchstones is a landmark collection of essays from one of the world's leading writers and intellectuals.
Provocative and poignant, On Writers & Writing is a must-read for both aspiring writers and careful readers of American literature.
This ebook features a new illustrated biography of John Gardner, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Gardner family and the University of Rochester Archives.
The book is divided into three sections: the essays in Living draw directly from Hustvedt's life; those in Thinking explore memory, emotion, and the imagination; and the pieces in Looking are about visual art. And yet, the same questions recur throughout the collection. How do we see, remember, and feel? How do we interact with other people? What does it mean to sleep, dream, and speak? What is "the self"? Hustvedt's unique synthesis of knowledge from many fields reinvigorates the much-needed dialogue between the humanities and the sciences as it deepens our understanding of an age-old riddle: What does it mean to be human?
In a follow-up to her collection of essays, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, Walker takes a look at a vast range of issues both personal and global, from her experience with the filming of The Color Purple, to the history of African-American narrative traditions, to global threats of pollution and nuclear war. Walker travels broadly and maintains an eye for detail, resulting in a captivating journey of conscience by one of the most distinctive political and artistic voices in America. Readers will find inspiration and insights in even the briefest entries of this enthralling anthology.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alice Walker including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
n important milestone came in 1927 when, for the first time, a novelist was invited to speak: E.M. Forster had recently published his masterpiece, A Passage to India, and rose to the occasion, delivering eight spirited and penetrating lectures on the novel.
The decision to accept the lectureship was a difficult one for Forster. He had deeply ambivalent feelings about the use of criticism. Although suspecting that criticism was somewhat antithetical to creation, and upset by the thought that time spent on the lectures took away from his own work, Forster accepted. His talks were witty and informal, and consisted of sharp penetrating bursts of insight rather than overly-methodical analysis. In short, they were a great success. Gathered and published later as Aspects of the Novel, the ideas articulated in his lectures would gain widespread recognition and currency in twentieth century criticism.
Of all of the insights contained within Aspects of the Novel, none has been more influential or widely discussed than Forster's discussion of "flat" and "round" characters. So familiar by now as to seem commonplace, Forster's distinction is meant to categorize the different qualities of characters in literature and examine the purposes to which they are put. Still, it would be wrong to reduce this book to its most famous line of argument and enquiry. Aspects of the Novel also discusses the difference between story and plot, the characteristics of prophetic fiction, and narrative chronology. Throughout, Forster draws on his extensive readings in English, French, and Russian literature, and discusses his ideas in reference to such figures as Joyce, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, James, Sterne, Defoe, and Proust.
Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he overcommitted to art (he has five books coming out in the next year and a half). Shields and Powell spend four days together at a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mine; they rewatch My Dinner with André and The Trip, relax in a hot tub, and talk about everything they can think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question (life and/or art?): marriage, family, sports, sex, happiness, drugs, death, betrayal—and, of course, writers and writing.
The relationship—the balance of power—between Shields and Powell is in constant flux, as two egos try to undermine each other, two personalities overlap and collapse. This book seeks to deconstruct the Q&A format, which has roots as deep as Plato and Socrates and as wide as Laurel and Hardy, Beckett’s Didi and Gogo, and Car Talk’s Magliozzi brothers. I Think You’re Totally Wrong also seeks to confound, as much as possible, the divisions between “reality” and “fiction,” between “life” and “art.” There are no teachers or students here, no interviewers or interviewees, no masters in the universe—only a chasm of uncertainty, in a dialogue that remains dazzlingly provocative and entertaining from start to finish.
James Franco's adaptation of I Think You're Totally Wrong into a film, with Shields and Powell striving mightily to play themselves and Franco in a supporting role, will be released later this year.
From the Hardcover edition.
Since so much of her writing has been in newspapers, it has quickly become unavailable to her many fans. On Architecture will bring together her best work from the New York Times, New York Review of Books, her more recent essays in the Wall Street Journal, and her various books. She is personally selecting and organizing the pieces into sections like "Art and Culture" and "The Art of Architecture," and is revising them as needed to bring them up to date. Whether you love modern architecture or desire a return to Beaux Arts design, this book will give you insight into the mind and heart of a critic who has artfully brought the discussion of architecture, architects and our environment to readers for five decades.
Joan Retallack's conversations with Cage represent the first consideration of his artistic production in its entirety, across genres. Informed by the perspective of age, Cage's comments range freely from his theories of chance and indeterminate composition to his long-time collaboration with Merce Cunningham to the aesthetics of his multimedia works. A composer for whom the whole world -- with its brimming silences and anarchic harmonies -- was a source of music, Cage once claimed, "There is no noise, only sounds." As these interviews attest, that penchant for testing traditions reached far beyond his music. His lifelong project, Retallack writes in her comprehensive introduction, was "dislodging cultural authoritarianism and gridlock by inviting surprising conjunctions within carefully delimited frameworks and processes." Consummate performer to the end, Cage delivers here just such a conjunction -- a tour de force that provides new insights into the man and a clearer view of the status of art in the 20th century.
Like his critically acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical Club, American Studies is intellectual and cultural history at its best: game and detached, with a strong curiosity about the political underpinnings of ideas and about the reasons successful ideas insinuate themselves into the culture at large. From one of our leading thinkers and critics, known both for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] clarity and rigor" (The Nation), these essays are incisive, surprising, and impossible to put down.
Thus did the young Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) react to his first viewing of Monet's Haystack, included in an 1895 Moscow exhibit of French Impressionists. It was his first perception of the dematerialization of an object and presaged the later development of his influential theories of non-objective art.
During study and travel in Europe, the young artist breathed the heady atmosphere of artistic experimentation. Fauvism, Cubism, Symbolism, and other movements played an important role in the development of his own revolutionary approach to painting. Decrying literal representation, Kandinsky emphasized instead the importance of form, color, rhythm, and the artist's inner need in expressing reality.
In Point and Line to Plane, one of the most influential books in 20th-century art, Kandinsky presents a detailed exposition of the inner dynamics of non-objective painting. Relying on his own unique terminology, he develops the idea of point as the "proto-element" of painting, the role of point in nature, music, and other art, and the combination of point and line that results in a unique visual language. He then turns to an absorbing discussion of line — the influence of force on line, lyric and dramatic qualities, and the translation of various phenomena into forms of linear expression. With profound artistic insight, Kandinsky points out the organic relationship of the elements of painting, touching on the role of texture, the element of time, and the relationship of all these elements to the basic material plane called upon to receive the content of a work of art.
Originally published in 1926, this essay represents the mature flowering of ideas first expressed in Kandinsky's earlier seminal book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. As an influential member of the Bauhaus school and a leading theoretician of abstract expressionism, Kandinsky helped formulate the modern artistic temperament. This book amply demonstrates the importance of his contribution and its profound effect on 20th-century art.
What Light Can Do is a magnificent companion piece to the former U.S. Poet Laureate’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poetry collection, Time and Materials, as well as his earlier book of essays, the NBCC Award-winner Twentieth Century Pleasures. Haas brilliantly discourses on many of his favorite topics—on writers ranging from Jack London to Wallace Stevens to Allen Ginsberg to Cormac McCarthy; on California; and on the art of photography in several memorable pieces—in What Light Can Do, a remarkable literary treasure that might best be described as “luminous.”
Leonard Michaels was a writer of unfailing emotional honesty. His memoirs, originally scattered through his story collections, are among the most thrilling evocations of growing up in the New York of the 1950s and '60s—and of continuing to grow up, in the cultural turmoil of the '70s and '80s, as a writer, teacher, lover, and reader. The same honesty and excitement shine in Michaels's highly personal commentaries on culture and art. Whether he's asking what makes a story, reviewing the history of the word "relationship," or reflecting on sex in the movies, he is funny, penetrating, surprising, always alive on the page.
The Essays of Leonard Michaels is the definitive collection of his nonfiction and shows, yet again, why Michaels was singled out for praise by fellow writers as diverse as Susan Sontag, Larry McMurtry, William Styron, and Charles Baxter. Beyond autobiography or criticism, it is the record of a sensibility and of a style that is unmatched in American letters.
Language and Silence is a book about language—and politics, meaning, silence, and the future of literature. Originally published between 1958 and 1966, the essays that make up this collection ponder whether we have passed out of an era of verbal primacy and into one of post-linguistic forms—or partial silence. Steiner explores the idea of the abandonment of contemporary literary criticism, from the classics to the works of William Shakespeare, Lawrence Durell, Thomas Mann, Leon Trotsky, and more.
Paul Johnson believes that creation cannot be satisfactorily analyzed, but it can be illustrated to bring out its salient characteristics. That is the purpose of this instructive and witty book.
“The Strange Necessity,” one of the twelve essays collected here and first published in 1928, anchors West’s quest to understand why art matters and how aesthetics of every caliber can not only inspire but reveal the author’s inner world. Whether juxtaposing Ulysses’s prose with Pavlov’s research, or comparing Sinclair Lewis with actress and pianist Yvonne Printemps, West finds that a satisfying emotion overrides an artistic work’s form. Her intricately crafted essays reveal her experience in the literary circles of the twenties and thirties and the important role this question played in her own writing. West’s keenly observed criticism offers invaluable insight not only into her work but into her impressions of early twentieth century literature.
This definitive collection includes not only Badiou’s pamphlet Rhapsody for the Theatre but also essays on Jean-Paul Sartre, on the political destiny of contemporary theatre, and on Badiou’s own work as a playwright, as author of the Ahmed Tetralogy.
The volume features Martin Heidegger on Van Gogh's shoes and the meaning of the Greek temple; Georges Bataille on Salvador Dalí's The Lugubrious Game; Theodor W. Adorno on capitalism and collage; Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes on the uncanny nature of photography; Sigmund Freud on Leonardo Da Vinci and his interpreters; Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva on the paintings of Holbein; Freud's postmodern critic, Gilles Deleuze on the visceral paintings of Francis Bacon; and Giorgio Agamben on the twin traditions of the Duchampian ready-made and Pop Art. Kul-Want elucidates these texts with essays on aesthetics, from Hegel and Nietzsche to Badiou and Rancière, demonstrating how philosophy adopted a new orientation toward aesthetic experience and subjectivity in the wake of Kant's powerful legacy.
In his sequence of films, Patrick Keiller retraces the hidden story of the places where we live, the cities and landscapes of our everyday lives. Now, in this brilliant collection of essays, he offers a new perspective on how Britain works and sees itself. He discusses the background to his work and its development – from surrealism to post-2008 economic catastrophe – and expands on what the films reveal.
Referencing writers including Benjamin and Lefebvre, the essays follow his career since the late 1970s, exploring themes including the surrealist perception of the city; the relationship of architecture and film; how cities change over time, and how films represent this; as well as accounts of cross-country journeys involving historical figures, unexpected ideas and an urgent portrait of post-crash Britain.
From the Hardcover edition.
The opening essay, "Origin Is the Goal," pursues Adorno's thesis of the dialectic of enlightenment to better understand the urgent social and political situation of the United States. "Back to Adorno" examines Adorno's idea that sacrifice is the primordial form of human domination; "Second Salvage" reconstructs Adorno's unfinished study of the transformation of music in radio transmission; and "What Is Mechanical Reproduction" revisits Adorno's criticism of Walter Benjamin. Further essays cover a broad range of topics: Adorno's affinities with Wallace Stevens and Nabokov, his complex relationship with Kierkegaard and psychoanalysis, and his critical study of popular music.
Many of these essays have been revised, with new material added that emphasizes the relevance of Adorno's thought to the United States today. Things Beyond Resemblance is a timely and richly analytical collection crucial to the study of critical theory, aesthetics, continental philosophy, and Adorno.
Vattimo then builds on Hans-Georg Gadamer's theory of aesthetics and provides an alternative to a rationalistic-positivistic criticism of art. This is the heart of Vattimo's argument, and with it he demonstrates how hermeneutical philosophy reaffirms art's ontological status and makes clear the importance of hermeneutics for aesthetic studies. In the book's final section, Vattimo articulates the consequences of reclaiming the ontological status of aesthetics without its metaphysical implications, holding Aristotle's concept of beauty responsible for the dissolution of metaphysics itself. In its direct engagement with the works of Gadamer, Heidegger, and Luigi Pareyson, Art's Claim to Truth offers a better understanding of the work of Vattimo and a deeper knowledge of ontology, hermeneutics, and the philosophical examination of truth.
In this 1950 essay, Howard Fast argues that all writers have a duty to reflect the truth of the world in their works, particularly regarding social justice. Fast’s treatise on literary criticism allows for a fuller understanding of his early novels, in which his political beliefs remain inseparable from his writing. Literature and Reality, which Fast wrote around the time of the 1949 Peekskill riots, offers a unique window into his worldview during the mid-twentieth century. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Howard Fast including rare photos from the author’s estate.
Shakespeare, Nabokov, Orwell, and Burroughs are just a few of the literary immortals featured in this engaging and thought-provoking volume.
In one remarkable essay, McCarthy provides a lively discourse on the true nature of evil in Shakespeare’s plays. Focusing on the character of Macbeth, she reveals why Lady Macbeth, who has to “unsex herself” and “wear the pants,” is the more human of the two. She tells us why the often-overlooked character of Madame Bovary’s husband, Charles, is the true hero, and not Emma Bovary, whom Flaubert once famously said was himself. Also included here is McCarthy’s impassioned defense of Hannah Arendt’s controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem, as well as a discussion of the reactionary leftist writers, and a look at why J. D. Salinger was the obvious successor to Hemingway.
Distinguished by McCarthy’s savage intelligence, clarity of thought, and utter lack of pretension, The Writing on the Wall is a timeless gem from an author who reveres the written word.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary McCarthy including rare images from the author’s estate.