Synopses & Reviews
From one of America's most brilliant critics and cultural commentators comes a long-awaited collection of penetrating autobiographical essays and a riveting short memoir, novelistic in style and ambition, about the pathos, comedy, and devastation of early love.
Stanford professor and longtime contributor to the London Review of Books, the Atlantic, the New Republic, Slate, and other publications, Terry Castle is widely admired for the wit, panache, intellectual breadth, and emotional honesty of her writings on life, literature, and art. Now, at long last, she has collected some of the more personal of her recent essays in a single volume. Several pieces here are already acknowledged classics: "Desperately Seeking Susan," the celebrated account she wrote in 2005 of her droll and somewhat bittersweet friendship with Susan Sontag; "My Heroin Christmas," a darkly humorous examination of addiction, her family and stepsiblings, and the late, great jazz saxophonist Art Pepper; and the picaresque "Travels with My Mother," a rollicking travelogue that brings together Castle's complicated relationship with her mother, lesbianism, art, and the difficult yet transcendent work of the painter Agnes Martin.
At the center of the collection, however, is the title work, published here for the first time: a candid and wrenching exploration of Castle's relationship, during her graduate school years, with a female professor. At once hilarious and rueful, it is a pitch-perfect recollection of the fiascos of youth: how we come to own (or disown) our sexuality; how we understand (or don't) the emotional needs and wishes of others; how the ordeals of desire can prompt a lifelong search for self-understanding.
In this account of a sentimental education, as in all the essays in The Professor and Other Writings, Terry Castle reveals herself as a truly remarkable writer: utterly distinctive, wise, frank, and fearless.
“[Terry Castle is] the most expressive, most enlightening literary critic at large today.” —Susan Sontag
From one of Americas most brilliant critics and cultural commentators, Terry Castle, comes The Professor and Other Writings: a collection of startling, gorgeously-written autobiographical essays and a new, long-form piece about the devastation and beauty of early love. James Wolcott, contributing writer to Vanity Fair, calls Terry Castle a “Jedi knight of literary exploration and lesbian scholarship,” and The Professor and Other Writings “a greatest-hits package of show-stopping monologues and offhand-genius riffs.” The Professor and Other Writings is a hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of gender, identity, and sexuality in the grand tradition of such feminist luminaries as Susan Sontag, Camille Paglia, and Joan Didion.
About the Author
Terry Castle was once described by Susan Sontag as "the most expressive, most enlightening literary critic at large today." She is the author of seven books of criticism, including The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (1993) and Boss Ladies, Watch Out! Essays on Women and Sex (2002). Her anthology, The Literature of Lesbianism, won the Lambda Literary Editor's Choice Award in 2003. She lives in San Francisco and is Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University.