Synopses & Reviews
Marcel Proust came into his own as a novelist comparatively late in life, yet only Shakespeare, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky were his equals when it came to creating characters as memorably human. As biographer Benjamin Taylor suggests, before writing In Search of Lost Time
, his multivolume masterwork, Proust was a literary lightweight, but, following a series of momentous historical and personal events, he becameandmdash;against all expectationsandmdash;one of the greatest writers of his, and indeed any, era.
This insightful, beautifully written biography examines Proustandrsquo;s artistic growth and stunning metamorphosis in the context of his times. Taylor provides an in-depth study of the authorandrsquo;s life while exploring how Proustandrsquo;s personal correspondence and published works were greatly informed by his motherandrsquo;s Judaism, his homosexuality, and such dramatic historical events as the Dreyfus Affair and, above all, the First World War.
"Compared to that parvenu Rome, southern Italy's metropolis is 'more ancient, less well-off...wiser, grander...glorious ghastly,' as well as the ideal setting for shaggy-dog repartee and philosophical ruminations, to judge by this beguiling travelogue. Taylor (Into the Open: Reflections on Genius and Modernity) offers a meandering, conversational account of 3000 years of Neapolitan history, one that veers off on interesting digressions on the origin of the alphabet to the fate of a lost American bomber crew but which always circles back to gossipy anecdotes about Roman emperors, medieval potentates, and latter-day literary figures and sexual outlaws. Meanwhile he leads readers on a journey through the modern city's cathedrals, poets' tombs, and famously finicky concert halls a chorus of boos erupts when a harp recital strays into the avant-garde modernism and periodically repairing to some cafÃ© for impromptu debates with locals about everything from Faulkner to CIA conspiracies. (Naples's buried Greek heritage provokes Taylor's own opinionated musings on the superiority of pagan spirituality, which he greatly prefers to Christianity's 'masochistic preoccupation with suffering, death and putrefaction' and 'untragic view of life.') Steeped in off-hand erudition and raptly attuned to the city's scruffy allure, Taylor makes a charming guide to an under-toured city. Photos. Agent: Irene Skolnick." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
It is a city of seemingly irreconcilable opposites, simultaneously glorious and ghastly. And it is Ben Taylorandrsquo;s remarkable ability to meld these contradictions into a whole that makes this the exciting and original book it is. He takes his stroll around the bay with the acute sensitivity of a lover, the good humor of a friend, and the wisdom of a seeker who has immersed himself in all aspects of this contrapuntal culture. His curiosity leads him to many byways, both real and metaphoric, and his passion for this ancient city and its people becomes, in his graceful prose and amusing anecdotes, irresistibly contagious.
A lively, elegantly concise historic tour of Italy’s city by the bay
An invaluable addition to the art of literary travel writing, Naples Declared
presents an informative and compulsively readable account of three thousand years of Naples history. From the catacombs of San Gennaro to the luminous paintings of Caravaggio to the ruins of Pompeii in nearby Campania, renowned author Benjamin Taylor takes readers on a stroll around the city Italians lovingly call Il Cratere. Gracefully written and full of good humor, wisdom, and amusing anecdotes, Naples Declared
is a wholly original work that will be welcomed by anyone seeking to know more about the art, culture, and history of this fabled place.
An arresting new study of the life, times, and achievement of one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century
About the Author
Benjamin Taylor is the author of two acclaimed novelsandmdash;The Book of Getting Even
and Tales Out of School
andmdash;and the editor of Saul Bellow: Letters,
called by The New York Times Book Review
book. Our literatureandrsquo;s debt to Taylor is considerable.andrdquo;