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?
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.
October 27, 2002 |
America is, famously, the republic of reinvention, where peoples the world over have sought an escape from history, a new identity in a land of seemingly endless possibility. California, of course, is, as Susan Sontag has remarked, "America's America," and Los Angeles has for more than 100 years been a terminus, the destination of desire. Despite its notorious reputation for making a fetish of the body and eschewing the life of the mind, Los Angeles has been a magnet for writers.
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.