March 28, 1999 |
About a year ago, having nothing new to read, I picked up Henry James' "Portrait of a Lady," which I hadn't read in 20 years, and began rereading it. It was an astonishing experience. The book was much better than I had remembered it; more to the point, I was a much better reader of it. Isabel was infinitely more appealing to me than she had been when I was her age: I felt I understood, finally, what she thought she was doing with her life.
April 17, 2005 |
Howard PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT fans -- including August Derleth, who co-founded a press, Arkham House, in part to posthumously publish Lovecraft -- have always argued that Lovecraft's weird tales belonged squarely in the center of American literary tradition, that his style was a natural descendant of 19th century writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Besides, Lovecraft was given the literary stamp of approval in 1928 when Edward J.
August 7, 2005 |
PITY the poets of the mid-20th century. Dead for only a few decades, Berryman, Bishop, Lowell and Merrill -- to name but a few -- sit in libraries gathering dust. Time and familiarity have silenced their voices. The world has sped beyond them. What does it matter, then, to say that Theodore Roethke was one of the most honored?
February 24, 2002 |
Though Mark Twain may or may not have written the Great American Novel ("Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), he is the Great American Writer-Personality-Folk Figure with enough tang to have a book of his occasionally banned or burned. In spite of the bonfires in the years since his death in 1910, he has been elevated to a place of his own on the virtual Mt. Rushmore.
March 3, 1985 |
The Library of America continues to be the most astonishing, ambitious and admirable publishing venture in many a year. Its aim is nothing less than to present the complete works of preeminent American writers from the beginnings until now, in uniform, usable and enduring volumes. The books are at that marvels of mass printing, with sewn bindings that let the books lie open although they run to as many as 1,500 pages.
January 30, 2000 |
A new volume in The Library of America series of American classics is always worth a word of welcome. These are definitive texts of the major works of major writers in attractive volumes on good paper at bargain prices; one can find Henry James' prefaces, for instance, or the memoirs of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant or the collected novels of Zora Neale Hurston: There are so far 113 volumes in the series. Dashiell Hammett is a deserving and maybe even belated addition.