literature's great essayists. Yet, while many are considered classics, as a
body of work his essays have been neglected. Peter Marks provides the first
sustained study of Orwell the essayist, giving these compelling pieces the
critical attention they merit.
Orwell employed the essay as a tool to entertain, illuminate and
provoke readers across an array of topics. Marks situates the essays in their
original contexts, exploring how journals influenced the type of essay Orwell
wrote. Acknowledging this periodical culture helps explain the tactics Orwell
employed, the topics he chose and the audiences he addressed. Orwell's first
and last published works were essays, providing evidence of the development of
his cultural and political views over two decades. Essays helped him fashion his distinctive
literary 'voice' and Mark traces how their afterlife contributes to Orwell's
posthumous reputation. Arguing the essays are central to Orwell's enduring
literary, political and cultural value, Marks shows how we understand the
complexities, subtleties, and contradictions of Orwell better when we
understand his essays.
Lionel Trilling was, during his lifetime, generally acknowledged to be one of the finest essayists in the English language, the heir of Hazlitt and the peer of Orwell. Since his death in 1974, his work has been discussed and hotly debated, yet today, when writers and critics claim to be "for" or "against" his interpretations, they can hardly be well acquainted with them, for his work has been largely out of print for years.
With this re-publication of Trilling's finest essays, Leon Wieseltier offers readers of many new generations a rich overview of Trilling's achievement. The essays collected here include justly celebrated masterpieces--on Mansfield Park and on "Why We Read Jane Austen"; on Twain, Dos Passos, Hemingway, Isaac Babel; on Keats, Wordsworth, Eliot, Frost; on "Art and Neurosis"; and the famous Preface to Trilling's book The Liberal Imagination.
This exhilarating work has much to teach readers who may have been encouraged to adopt simpler systems of meaning, or were taught to exchange the ideals of reason and individuality for those of enthusiasm and the false romance of group identity. Trilling's remarkable essays show a critic who was philosophically motivated and textually responsible, alive to history but not in thrall to it, exercised by art but not worshipful of it, consecrated to ideas but suspicious of theory.
By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay—the I of the essayist—Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction. He develops this key idea by explaining how structure, style, and voice determine the nature of a persona and our perception of it in the works of such essayists as Michel de Montaigne, Charles Lamb, E. B. White, and Virginia Woolf. Realizing that this persona is shaped by the force of culture and the impress of personal experience, he explores the effects of both upon the point of view, content, and voice of such essayists as George Orwell, Nancy Mairs, Richard Rodriguez, and Alice Walker. Throughout, in full command of the history of the essay, he calls up numerous passages in which essayists themselves acknowledge the element of impersonation in their work, drawing upon the perspectives of Joan Didion, Edward Hoagland, Joyce Carol Oates, Leslie Marmon Silko, Scott Russell Sanders, Annie Dillard, Vivian Gornick, Loren Eiseley, James Baldwin, and a host of other literary guides.
Finally, adding yet another layer to the made-up self, Klaus succumbs to his addiction to the personal essay by placing some of the different selves that various essayists have called forth in him within the essays that he has crafted so carefully for this book. Making his way from one essay to the next with a persona variously learned, whimsical, and poignant, he enacts the palimpsest of ways in which the made-up self comes to life in the work of a single essayist. Thus over the course of this highly original, beautifully structured study, the personal essay is revealed to be more complex than many readers have supposed. With its lively analyses and illuminating examples, The Made-Up Self will speak to anyone who wishes to understand—or to write—personal essays.
-- John SturrockFrench StudiesClearly a landmark study. It seems certain to provoke a great deal of productive debate among those concerned with any of the many issues it raises.
-- Comparative Literature
The literary self-portrait, often considered to be an ill- formed autobiography, is receiving more attention as a result of the current obsession with personal narrative, but little progress has been made toward an understanding of its specific features. With Poetics of the Literary Self-Portrait, Michel Beaujour reveals the hidden ambitions of this genre. From St. Augustine to Montaigne, from Nietzsche to Malraux, Leiris and Barthes, individual self-portraits are analyzed jointly with the enduring cultural matrix from which self-portrayal derives its disconcerting non-narrative structure, and many of its recurrent topics.
Renowned Beckett scholar Ruby Cohn has selected some of Beckett's criticisms, reviews, letters, and other unpublished materials that shed new light on his work.
Taking students through the various stages of writing, from planning to final submission, it offers specific guidelines and a lively, detailed commentary on actual examples of student work at each stage.
The reflections on art and literature that Goethe produced throughout his life are the premise and corollary of his work as poet, novelist, and man of science. This volume contains such important essays as "On Gothic Architecture," "On the Laocoon Group," and "Shakespeare: A Tribute." Several works in this collection appear for the first time unabridged and in fresh translations.
David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing" is a state-of-the art guide through Wallace's three major works, including the generation-defining Infinite Jest. These essays provide fresh new readings of each of Wallace's novels as well as thematic essays that trace out patterns and connections across the three works. Most importantly, the collection includes six chapters on Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King, which will prove to be foundational for future scholars of this important text.
A German Jew, Auerbach was forced out of his professorship at the University of Marburg in 1935. He left for Turkey, where he taught at the state university in Istanbul. There he wrote Mimesis, publishing it in German after the end of the war. Displaced as he was, Auerbach produced a work of great erudition that contains no footnotes, basing his arguments instead on searching, illuminating readings of key passages from his primary texts. His aim was to show how from antiquity to the twentieth century literature progressed toward ever more naturalistic and democratic forms of representation. This essentially optimistic view of European history now appears as a defensive--and impassioned--response to the inhumanity he saw in the Third Reich. Ranging over works in Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English, Auerbach used his remarkable skills in philology and comparative literature to refute any narrow form of nationalism or chauvinism, in his own day and ours.
For many readers, both inside and outside the academy, Mimesis is among the finest works of literary criticism ever written. This Princeton Classics edition includes a substantial introduction by Edward Said as well as an essay in which Auerbach responds to his critics.
As much a rumination on the state of literature as a technical manual for aspiring writers, Burning Down the House has been enjoyed by readers and taught in classrooms for more than a decade. Readers are rewarded with thoughtful analysis, humorous one-liners, and plenty of brushfires that continue burning long after the book is closed.
So wrote Tobias Wolff seven years ago, about Andre Dubus's Broken Vessels, and that insight describes perfectly the twenty-five pieces in this powerfully moving new collection, a continuation of Dubus's candid, intensely personal exploration into matters of morality, religion, and creativity. Since that first book of essays, written after the 1986 accident that cost him his leg and, for a time, the ability to write, Mr. Dubus has published Dancing After Hours, a unanimously heralded book of stories "at once harrowing and exhilarating" (Time).
Here is Dubus on the rape of his beloved sister, his first real job, a gay naval officer, Hemingway,
the blessing of his first marriage, his dear friend Richard Yates, his own crippling, lost autumnal pleasures, having sons and grandsons, his first books, meeting a woman who witnessed his accident, the Catholic church, and, of course, his faith.
A writer of immense sensitivity, vulnerability, and thoughtfulness--a master at the height of his talent--whose work "is suffused with grace, bathed in a kind of spiritual glow" (New York Times Book Review).
From the Hardcover edition.
For more than forty years, Christopher Hitchens delivered essays to numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic that were astonishingly wide-ranging and provocative. His death in December 2011 from esophageal cancer prematurely silenced a voice that was among the most admired of contemporary voices—writers, readers, pundits and critics the world over mourned his loss.
At the time of his death, Hitchens left nearly 250,000 words of essays not yet published in book form. “Another great book of essays from a writer who we wish were still alive to produce more copy” (National Review), And Yet… ranges from the literary to the political and is a banquet of entertaining and instructive delights, including essays on Orwell, Lermontov, Chesterton, Fleming, Naipaul, Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Dickens, among others, as well as his laugh-out-loud self-mocking “makeover.” The range and quality of Hitchens’s essays transcend the particular occasions for which they were originally written, yielding “a bounty of famous scalps, thunder-blasted targets, and a few love letters from the notorious provocateur-in-chief’s erudite and scathing assessments of American culture” (Vanity Fair). Often prescient, always pugnacious, formidably learned, Hitchens was a polemicist for the ages. With this posthumous volume, he remains, “America’s foremost rhetorical pugilist” (The Village Voice).
This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope ("My Ancestral Castles") and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections ("Marrying Libraries"), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony--Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners. Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists.
In the most personal of the essays, Eco recalls experiencing liberation from fascism in Italy as a boy, and examines the various historical forms of fascism, always with an eye toward such ugly manifestations today. And finally, in an intensely personal open letter to an Italian cardinal, Eco reflects on a question underlying all the reflections in the book--what does it mean to be moral or ethical when one doesn't believe in God?
“I have decided that the trouble with print is, it never changes its mind,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin in her introduction to Dancing at the Edge of the World. But she has, and here is the record of that change in the decade since the publication of her last nonfiction collection, The Language of the Night. And what a mind—strong, supple, disciplined, playful, ranging over the whole field of its concerns, from modern literature to menopause, from utopian thought to rodeos, with an eloquence, wit, and precision that makes for exhilarating reading.
“If you are tired of being able to predict what a writer will say next, if you are bored stiff with minimalism, if you want excess and risk and intelligence and pure orneriness, try Le Guin.” —Mary Mackey, San Francisco Chronicle
From Lorrie Moore's earliest reviews of novels by Margaret Atwood and Nora Ephron, to an essay on Ezra Edelman's 2016 O.J. Simpson documentary, and in between: Moore on the writing of fiction (the work of V. S. Pritchett, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, Stanley Elkin, Dawn Powell, Nicholson Baker, et al.) . . . on the continuing unequal state of race in America . . . on the shock of the shocking GOP . . . on the dangers (and cruel truths) of celebrity marriages and love affairs . . . on the wilds of television (The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Into the Abyss, Girls, Homeland, True Detective, Making a Murderer) . . . on the (d)evolving environment . . . on terrorism, the historical imagination, and the world's newest form of novelist . . . on the lesser (and larger) lives of biography and the midwifery between art and life (Anaïs Nin, Marilyn Monroe, John Cheever, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, Bernard Malamud, among others) . . . and on the high art of being Helen Gurley Brown . . . and much, much more.
"Fifty years from now, it may well turn out that the work of very few American writers has as much to say about what it means to be alive in our time as that of Lorrie Moore" (Harper's Magazine).
*A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice*
*A New York Times Top 10 Nonfiction Book of the Year, as selected by Dwight Garner*
Geoff Dyer has earned the devotion of passionate fans on both sides of the Atlantic through his wildly inventive, romantic novels as well as several brilliant, uncategorizable works of nonfiction. All the while he has been writing some of the wittiest, most incisive criticism we have on an astonishing array of subjects—music, literature, photography, and travel journalism—that, in Dyer's expert hands, becomes a kind of irresistible self-reportage.
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition collects twenty-five years of essays, reviews, and misadventures. Here he is pursuing the shadow of Camus in Algeria and remembering life on the dole in Brixton in the 1980s; reflecting on Richard Avedon and Ruth Orkin, on the status of jazz and the wonderous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, on the sculptor ZadKine and the saxophonist David Murray (in the same essay), on his heroes Rebecca West and Ryszard Kapus ́cin ́ski, on haute couture and sex in hotels. Whatever he writes about, his responses never fail to surprise. For Dyer there is no division between the reflective work of the critic and the novelist's commitment to lived experience: they are mutually illuminating ways to sharpen our perceptions. His is the rare body of work that manages to both frame our world and enlarge it.
Ten Years in the Tub is a one-way ticket into the mind of one of the most beloved contemporary writers on his favorite pastime, but it's also a meditation on what Celine Dion can teach us about ourselves, a warning about how John Updike can ruin our sex lives, and a recommendation for the way Body Shop Vanilla Shower Gel can add excitement to our days. This "decade-long addiction for many... makes standing in line at the bank a blessed interval for snorting another page.” (the New York Times Book Review)
Five decades after her debut poetry collection, Firstborn, Louise Glück is a towering figure in American letters. Written with the same probing, analytic control that has long distinguished her poetry, American Originality is Glück’s second book of essays—her first, Proofs and Theories, won the 1993 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Glück’s moving and disabusing lyricism is on full display in this decisive new collection.
From its opening pages, American Originality forces readers to consider contemporary poetry and its demigods in radical, unconsoling, and ultimately very productive ways. Determined to wrest ample, often contradictory meaning from our current literary discourse, Glück comprehends and destabilizes notions of “narcissism” and “genius” that are unique to the American literary climate. This includes erudite analyses of the poets who have interested her throughout her own career, such as Rilke, Pinsky, Chiasson, and Dobyns, and introductions to the first books of poets like Dana Levin, Peter Streckfus, Spencer Reece, and Richard Siken. Forceful, revealing, challenging, and instructive, American Originality is a seminal critical achievement.
With eloquent prose and the narrative drive of a great mystery novel, Kadare renews our readings of the classics and lends them a distinctly Albanian tint. Like Mark Twain’s Mississippi River, Márquez’s Macondo, and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, Kadare’s Albania emerges as a microcosm of civilization; here, blood vengeance in mountain communities reaches the dramatic heights of Hamlet’s dilemma, funereal rites take on the air of Greek tragedy, and political repression gives life the feel of Dante’s nine circles of Hell.
Like Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, Essays on World Literature casts reading itself as a daring act of resistance to artistic suppression. Kadare’s insights into the Western canon secure his own place within it.
Hugo, Vargas Llosa says, had at least two goals in Les Misérables--to create a complete fictional world and, through it, to change the real world. Despite the impossibility of these aims, Hugo makes them infectious, sweeping up the reader with his energy and linguistic and narrative skill. Les Misérables, Vargas Llosa argues, embodies a utopian vision of literature--the idea that literature can not only give us a supreme experience of beauty, but also make us more virtuous citizens, and even grant us a glimpse of the "afterlife, the immortal soul, God." If Hugo's aspiration to transform individual and social life through literature now seems innocent, Vargas Llosa says, it is still a powerful ideal that great novels like Les Misérables can persuade us is true.
Throughout American history black people are the only group of people to have been forbidden by law to learn to read. This expansive collection seeks to shed light on that injustice, putting some of America’s most cherished voices in a conversation in one magnificent volume that presents reading as an act of resistance.
Organized into three sections—the Peril, the Power, and the Pleasure—and featuring a vast array of contributors both classic and contemporary, Black Ink presents the brilliant diversity of black thought in America while solidifying the importance of these writers within the greater context of the American literary tradition. “This electric and electrifying collection of voices serves to open a much-needed window onto the freedom struggle of black literature. It’s a marvel, and a genuine gift for readers everywhere” (Wil Haygood, author of The Butler: A Witness to History).
Contributors include: Frederick Douglass, Solomon Northup, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison, Walter Dean Myers, Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Ture], Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Terry McMillan, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Colson Whitehead.
The anthology features a bonus in-depth interview with President Barack Obama.
Renowned for such classics as A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India, E. M. Forster was one of Britain’s—and the world’s—most distinguished fiction writers, a frequent nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In this collection of lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927, he takes a wide-ranging look at English-language novels—with specific examples from such masters as Dickens and Austen—discussing the elements they all have in common.
Using a witty, informal tone and drawing as well on his extensive readings in French and Russian literature, Forster discusses his ideas in reference to such figures as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Proust; explains the difference between “flat” and “round” characters and between plot and story; and ultimately provides an “admirable and delightful” education for anyone who appreciates the art of a good book (The New York Times).
Over the past eleven years, Greif has been publishing superb, and in some cases already famous, essays in n+1, the high-profile little magazine that he co-founded. These essays address such key topics in the cultural, political, and intellectual life of our time as the tyranny of exercise, the tyranny of nutrition and food snobbery, the sexualization of childhood (and everything else), the philosophical meaning of Radiohead, the rise and fall of the hipster, the impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the crisis of policing. Four of the selections address, directly and unironically, the meaning of life—what might be the right philosophical stance to adopt toward one’s self and the world.
Each essay in Against Everything is learned, original, highly entertaining, and, from start to finish, dead serious. They are the work of a young intellectual who, with his peers, is reinventing and reinvigorating what intellectuals can be and say and do. Mark Greif manages to reincarnate and revivify the thought and spirit of the greatest of American dissenters, Henry David Thoreau, for our time and historical situation.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell travels through the American past and in doing so ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? And, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot?
Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, themes, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration.
The result is a teeming and engrossing book, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary.
“I read for entertainment, and I write to entertain. Period.” Such is the manifesto of Michael Chabon, an author of indisputable literary renown who maintains a fierce appreciation of the seductive arts of so-called “genre” fiction.
In this lively collection of sixteen critical and personal essays, the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay champions the cause of westerns, horror, and all the stories, comics, and pulp fiction that get pushed aside when literary discussion turns serious. Whether he’s taking up Superman or Sherlock Holmes, Poe or Proust, Chabon makes it his emphatic mission to explore the reasons we tell one another tales.
Throughout, Chabon reveals his own blooming as a writer, from The Mysteries of Pittsburgh to The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. He is living proof of his theory that the stories that give us great pleasure are in many ways our truest, best art—the building blocks of our shared imagination—and in Maps and Legends, he “makes an inviting case for bridging the gap between popular and literary writing” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
This ebook features a biography of the author.