Synopses & Reviews
One of America's foremost novelists and critics, Cynthia Ozick has
won praise and provoked debate for taking on challenging literary,
historical, and moral issues. Her new collection of spirited essays focuses
on the essential joys of great literature. With razor-sharp wit and an inspiring
joie de vivre, she investigates unexpected byways in the works of Leo
Tolstoy, Saul Bellow, Helen Keller, Isaac Babel, Sylvia Plath, Susan
Sontag, Henry James, and others. In Highbrow Blues and in reflections
on her own early fiction, she writes intimately of the din in our heads,
that relentless inner hum, and the curative power of literary imagination.
"This essay collection on the joys of literature presents [Ozick] at the height of her critical powers...Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Rich and varied...Erudition lightly worn, eloquence finely crafted." Kirkus Reviews
"Over three decades, the din in Cynthia Ozick's head has been worth listening to." --Daphne Merkin Publishers Weekly
"Open the collection anywhere -- I guarantee it -- and you will feel the bite of her distinctive voice." --Sven Birkerts Los Angeles Times
"The passion that fills these essays is invigorating. In our age of irony and commercial pandering, we need writers like Ozick." --Danielle Chapman The Chicago Tribune
One of America's foremost novelists and critics, Cynthia Ozick has won praise and provoked debate for taking on challenging literary, historical, and moral issues. In her spirited essay collection The Din in the Head, she focuses on the essential joys of great literature. With razor-sharp wit and an inspiring joie de vivre, Ozick investigates unexpected byways in the works of Leo Tolstoy, Saul Bellow, Helen Keller, Isaac Babel, Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, and Henry James, among others. Throughout this bracing collection, she celebrates the curative power of the literary imagination.
About the Author
Author of numerous acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, CYNTHIA OZICK is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New Republic, Harper's, and elsewhere. She lives in New York.
Table of Contents
Foreword On Discord and Desire · 3 · What Helen Keller Saw · 11 · Young Tolstoy: An Apostle of Desire · 33 · John Updike: Eros and God · 47 · Throwing Away the Clef: Saul Bellows Ravelstein · 57 · Washington Square: So Many Absent Things · 71 · Smoke and Fire: Sylvia Plaths Journals · 85 · Kipling: A Postcolonial Footnote · 91 · Delmore Schwartz: The Willed Abortion of the Self · 93 · Lionel Trilling and the Buried Life · 105 · Tradition and (or versus) the Jewish Writer · 125 · Henry James, Tolstoy, and My First Novel · 131 · Highbrow Blues · 147 · The Din in the Head · 157 · The Rule of the Bus · 163 · Isaac Babel: Let Me Finish” · 179 · In Research of Lost Time · 185 · The Heretical Passions of Gershom Scholem · 197 · And God Saw Literature, That It Was Good: Robert Alters Version · 219 · Afterword An (Unfortunate) Interview with Henry James · 235 ·