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Literary Genius: 25 Classic Writers Who Define English & American Literature

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Literary Genius: 25 Classic Writers Who Define English & American Literature Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Our finest essayists discuss six centuries of literary genius.

"Genius is one of those words upon which the world has agreed to form no clear consensus," Joseph Epstein tells us in his introduction. How then shall we define "literary genius"? In this collection, twenty-five contemporary authors endeavor to answer that question by considering twenty-five classic writers and their enduring works.

We learn that, more important than mere originality or creativity, it is the ability to make us experience the world in new ways that sets these writers apart. "My task," Joseph Conrad wrote, "is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feeland#151;it is above all to make you see. Thatand#151;and no more, and it is everything."

Wood-engraved portraits and illustrations by renowned artist Barry Moser accompany each essay.

Contents:

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, from his introduction: "Literary genius comes in many varieties. Some literary geniuses seem natural (Charles Dickens, Mark Twain), others cultivated (George Eliot, Henry James). Some are prolific (Wordsworth, Whitman), some are more carefully concentrated (Jane Austen, T. S. Eliot). Some literary geniuses are stimulated by the difficult (Alexander Pope, John Milton). Some require absolute originality and#151; entailing the need to invent their own style and#151; to convey their vision (James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway). Some have perfected a form (Pope, the heroic couplet), some have tried to kill off a genre (Joyce, the novel). Not some but all literary geniuses can be read again and again, down through the generations. As Hilary Mantel, in her essay on Jane Austen, writes: 'Surely this is the definition of genius in a writer: the capacity to make a text that can give and give, a text that is never fully read, a text that goes on multiplying meanings.' Timelessness this is called, and it is another of the hallmarks of literary genius."

Joseph Epsteinand#160;is the author of nineteen books, most recentlyand#160;In a Cardboard Belt!: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage. For more than twenty years he was editor ofand#160;The American Scholar. A contributor toand#160;The New Yorker,and#160;Commentary,and#160;The Atlantic,and#160;the Times Literary Supplement, and other magazines, he also taught for many years in the English Department at Northwestern University.

Barry Moserand#160;is an illustrator, author, and designer whose work appears in museums and libraries around the world. He has published nearly three hundred titles, including Lewis Carroll'sand#160;Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which won the American Book Award in 1983. In 1991 he won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for his collaboration with Cynthia Rylant,and#160;Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds. A member of the National Academy of Design, he has served on the faculty of Rhode Island School of Design and is currently on the faculty of Smith College.

Review:

"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.)

Synopsis:

Profiles of 25 great writers whose works help us see the world in new ways.

Synopsis:

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.

Contents:

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781589880351
Author:
Epstein, Joseph
Publisher:
Paul Dry Books
Illustrator:
Moser, Barry
Author:
Moser, Barry
Subject:
General
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Authors, English
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20071031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
59
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
0.00 x 0.00 in

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Related Subjects

Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Literary Reference
Travel » Travel Writing » General

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Product details 256 pages Paul Dry Books - English 9781589880351 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)
"Synopsis" by ,
Profiles of 25 great writers whose works help us see the world in new ways.
"Synopsis" by ,

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.

Contents:

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.

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