Artistic License: Three Centuries of Good Writing and Bad Behavior

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9781566636650: Artistic License: Three Centuries of Good Writing and Bad Behavior

Brooke Allen's sparkling new collection of essays considers the dysfunctional and apparently destructive nature of great talent. Ms. Allen shows how the incendiaries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were, in real terms, far more daring and more disturbing to the moral and ideological systems of their time than is the modern mutineer, who stages his rebellion within a social framework that condones—or at least pretends to condone—rebellion. She finds it surprising that so many writers held on to artistic rectitude in the face of all-but-insuperable personal failings.

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About the Author:

Brooke Allen's first book of essays, Twentieth-Century Attitudes, won wide praise, including selection as a 2003 New York Times Notable Book. The New York Times Book Review called the work "the most high-level, erudite gossip imaginable." She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York.

Review:

Allen delivers some refreshing new negative judgement of some revered (and not so revered) giants. (The Star Democrat, Easton, Maryland )

...Allen's essays both entertain and illuminate.... Recommended... (Library Journal )

Brooke Allen is the rare literary critic who is always worth reading. (Adam Kirsch New York Sun )

...Saucy and shrewd new collection...matches literary erudition with a lithe yet pithy writing style... (Booklist )

...A delightfully eclectic collection of essays on literary subjects.... These essays bear rereading...every piece tells a shapely story, spiky with idiosyncratic particulars yet also exemplary in some way. (John Wilson Christianity Today )

Her writers are spirits indeed; Allen channels them earnestly, and in presenting them unpolished she honors their memory. (Toronto National Post )

[Allen] is so well informed and perspicacious that these pieces surpass their generative occasions and succeed in standing alone as worthwhile essays. (J.A. Gray First Things )

These essays are thoughtful and respectful, and they reveal complex and compelling lives. (Nan Booth Speakeasy )

In an age of academic specialiazation, few writers read so broadly and write so well for a general audience.... Allen has an enviable command of her material. (Larry T. Shillock The Bloomsbury Review )

Allen is one of the best American literary reviewers working today.... Crisp delivery, sure grasp of moral and aesthetic proportion, and genuine respect for her audience.... (David Mazella The Houston Chronicle )

Allen has a talent for marshalling the pertinent facts to expose her subjects' idiosyncratic or paradoxical elements. (Matt Sturrock Books In Canada )

In an age when many scholars feel that literary theory is more important than literature itself, Allen's obvious love of literature and those who create it is refreshing. (Erik Bledsoe ForeWord Reviews )

A very talented writer....Allen's obvious love of literature and those who create it is refreshing. (Erik Bledsoe ForeWord Reviews )

Bold criticism from a knowledgeable, bright writer... (Kirkus Reviews )

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