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Literary Genius: 25 Classic Writers Who Define English & American Literatureby Joseph Epstein
Synopses & Reviews
What constitutes literary genius? This collection of essays focuses on twenty-five English-language writers whose original and enduring works enrich our lives. Renowned portraitist Barry Moser provides a handsome engraving of each writer, together with illustrations based upon their texts.
1. Tom Shippey on Geoffrey Chaucer
2. Lois Potter on William Shakespeare
3. Reynolds Price on John Milton
4. Anthony Hecht on Alexander Pope
5. David Bromwich on Samuel Johnson
6. David Womersley on Edward Gibbon
7. Dan Jacobson on William Wordsworth
8. Hilary Mantel on Jane Austen
9. Frederick Raphael on William Hazlitt
10. Evan Boland on John Keats
11. Daniel Mark Epstein on Nathaniel Hawthorne
12. A. N. Wilson on Charles Dickens
13. Justin Kaplan on Walt Whitman
14. William Pritchard on Herman Melville
15. Paula Marantz Cohen on George Eliot
16. Bruce Floyd on Emily Dickinson
17. David Carkeet on Mark Twain
18. Joseph Epstein on Henry James
19. Elizabeth Lowry on Joseph Conrad
20. Stephen Cox on Willa Cather
21. Robert Pack on Robert Frost
22. Joseph Blotner on William Faulkner
23. John Gross on James Joyce
24. John Simon on T.S. Eliot
25. James L. W. West III on Ernest Hemingway
Joseph Epstein, former editor of the American Scholar, teaches writing and literature at Northwestern University. He is the author of seventeen books.
Barry Moser is world-renowned for his children’s illustrations, engravings, watercolors, and reinterpretations of the classics.
"Essayist and former editor of The American Scholar Epstein (In a Cardboard Box: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage) assembles a stellar cast of 25 contemporary authors to explore how and when literary genius emerged from the pens of 25 classic English and American writers. In an introductory essay, Epstein observes that timelessness, grandeur of vision, and originality of outlook comprise genius in the writer. Writers ranging from Reynolds Price to Joseph Blotner explore the works of classic authors from Shakespeare to Hemingway, weaving together biography and literary analysis to reveal the nature of the particular writer's genius. Tom Shippey observes that Chaucer's genius 'lies in his unique ability to combine a clear and penetrating insight into human weaknesses with a warm and wide-ranging sympathy,' while Reynolds Price argues that it is Milton's manipulation of words and phrases toward a larger end that demonstrates his literary power. Yet the rationale behind the selection of classic authors isn't as complete as it could be: where are Shelley, Coleridge, and Woolf, whose genius arguably rivals that of Joyce and Faulkner, who are included? Nevertheless, these essays shed light on the creative fires that burned in the minds of our most cherished writers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Profiles of 25 great writers whose works help us see the world in new ways.
About the Author
Joseph Epstein is the author of sixteen books, the most recent of which are Fabulous Small Jews and Envy. For more than twenty years he was editor of The American Scholar. A contributor to The New Yorker, Commentary, the London Times Literary Supplement, and other magazines, he also taught for many years in the English Department at Northwestern University.
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