Pieces of My Mind: Essays and Criticism 1958-2002

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9780809076017: Pieces of My Mind: Essays and Criticism 1958-2002

Sir Frank Kermode has been writing peerless literary criticism for more than a half-century. Pieces of My Mind includes his own choice of his major essays since 1958, beginning with his extraordinary study of "Poet and Dancer Before Diaghilev" and ending with a marvelous consideration of Shakespeare's Othello and Verdi-Boito's Otello. Important essays on Hawthorne, on Wallace Stevens, on problems in literary theory and analysis, on Auden, on "Secrets and Narrative Sequence," and three previously unpublished essays (including one on "Memory" and one on "Forgetting") fill out this rich and rewarding volume. Pieces of My Mind also contains recent considerations of the work of major modern writers--Don DeLillo, Raymond Carver, Tom Paulin, and others.

Of Kermode's last book, Shakespeare's Language, Richard Howard wrote that it was "a triumph of inauguration and the crowning action of his splendid career of criticism. It is, and will doubtless remain, the first book one should read about Shakespeare's plays, and with those plays." Pieces of My Mind has equal authority and power, and it will be equally praised.

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About the Author:

Frank Kermode is the author of many books, including Shakespeare's Language (FSG, 2000), Not Entitled (FSG, 1995), Forms of Attention, and The Sense of an Ending. He has taught extensively in the United States, and lives in Cambridge, England.

From Publishers Weekly:

Born on the Isle of Man and linked over the years with Cambridge, Harvard and Columbia Universities, Kermode belongs to the superleague of internationally famous old-school literary critics that also includes Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman and Christopher Ricks; his best-known works in America include The Sense of an Ending, Shakespeare's Language and an autobiography, Not Entitled. This hefty and very worthwhile collection samples his interests from opera to modern dance, from the New Testament to the English novelist Ian McEwan. It includes chapters from Kermode's most famous books, freestanding academic pieces and lectures, essay-reviews from the London Review of Books, and four substantial unpublished essays, including a provocative exploration of literary and cognitive "forgetting." Kermode's recurring subjects include Shakespeare, Wallace Stevens, Joseph Conrad, modern fiction and narrative generally, and the nature of interpretation. If his most theoretical work seems very much of its time (the 1970s and '80s), the work on novels, poems and plays stands up quite well, exhibiting Kermode's blend of sophisticated reading and consistently accessible writing. "Shakespeare and Boito" (a new piece) compares the original Othello to the one in Verdi's opera; "The Man in the Macintosh" (1979) asks Joyceans, and New Testament readers, "why do we prefer enigmas to muddles?" Kermode can simply observe, or ask questions, rather than advancing extended arguments, a way of reading that proves as instructive as it is satisfying.
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