Synopses & Reviews
Writing about his newest book, Denis Donoghue says, "I do not offer to say why Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt are beautiful, or what cultural axioms are at work in the common agreement that they are. Instead I think of beauty as a value--like its companions, the true and the good--and I ponder the 'words of tribute' that are devoted to it." Here one of the foremost living critics of the English language, Denis Donoghue, examines instances of beauty and the language that beauty inspires. An appreciative and wide-ranging reader, Donoghue discusses Kant, Schiller, Keats, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Ruskin, Henry James, Proust, Yeats, Housman, Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and many more. He considers some of the main theories of beauty and their terms of reference and appreciation. And he examines the relation of beauty to form: form as found in landscape, persons, poems, paintings, and musical phrases; and form as in the difficult question of beauty and its wild neighbor, the sublime. Writing with his customary elegance and lucidity, Donoghue tells us that beauty is a topic that has once again become interesting and even fashionable, and in this book he shows how it can be discussed with intelligence and decency.
"Speaking of Beauty is a beautiful book about beauty. Enormously learned, allusive, recuperative, and citational, it is a passionate meditation on what has been said about beauty in the West from the Greeks to the present day. Donoghue performs, like the rider in Wallace Stevens's essay, 'The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words,' a heroic work of conservation and elevation."—J. Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine
“Continuously fascinating, continuously readable, the book speaks of beauty, and of speakers of beauty, in its own calm, steady voice. You wont want to lay it down.”—Hugh Kenner, author of The Pound Era
Includes bibliographical references (p. 189-202) and index.
A foremost critic of the English language here reflects on beauty and the language that it inspires in authors from Kant to Keats, Hawthorne to Housman.
An excellent and eloquent book.”James Wood, New York Times Book Review
A beautiful book about beauty. Enormously learned, allusive, recuperative, and citational, it is a passionate meditation on what has been said about beauty in the West from the Greeks to the present day.”J. Hillis Miller
Donoghue talks . . . with a delightful informality and absence of dogma. . . . One of the most charming features of Denis Donoghues book is his appendix of afterwords, brief quotations on beauty from sundry writers.”John Bayley, New York Review of Books
Continuously fascinating, continuously readable, the book speaks of beauty, and of speakers of beauty, in its own calm, steady voice. You wont want to lay it down.”Hugh Kenner
About the Author
Denis Donoghue is University Professor and Henry James Professor of English and American Letters at New York University.
Table of Contents
Speaking of beauty -- The tragic sense of beauty -- Every wrinkle the touch of a master -- The force of form -- Ruskin, Venice, and the fate of beauty.