Scarce older publication; appears mostly untouched and unread, shows very slight signs of prolonged shelf-life, likely out of print. Gift Quality Book in Excellent Condition. Bookseller Inventory #
Synopsis: This book recalls an era when criticism could change the way we look at the world. In the tradition of Matthew Arnold and Edmund Wilson, James Wood reads literature expansively, always pursuing its role and destiny in our lives. In a series of essays about such figures as Melville, Flaubert, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, and Don DeLillo, Wood relates their fiction to questions of religious and philosophical belief. He suggests that the steady ebb of the sea of faith has much to do with the revo-
lutionary power of the novel, as it has developed over the last two centuries. To read James Wood is to be shocked into both thinking and feeling how great our debt to the novel is.
In the grand tradition of criticism, Wood's work is both commentary and literature in its own right--fiercely written, polemical, and richly poetic in style. This book marks the debut of a masterly literary voice.
Review: For James Wood, great fiction is always a venture into danger--a journey to the farthest shores. By extension, great criticism too should demand and risk all. And his first collection, The Broken Estate, does so again and again. Since Wood graduated from Cambridge in the 1980s and began reviewing for The Guardian, his name has been preceded by phrases such as enfant terrible and followed by adjectives such as fierce, fearless, and occasionally far worse. Few critics have such an urgent relation to their reading, and it is this, combined with his all-encompassing intellect and verbal velvet, that makes Wood so terrifying--and so tender.
In his introduction to The Broken Estate he writes, "The gentle request to believe is what makes fiction so moving" (gentle, as both adjective and verb, and its adverbial form, seem key terms), and this is what Wood is drawn to explore in the Russian greats and the English, European, and American moderns, among others. Many of these essays originally appeared in the London Review of Books and The New Republic, where he is a senior editor, but his book is far from a bundle of accident. Wood's contention is that in the mid-19th century, the "distinctions between literary belief and religious belief" began to blur (or, depending on the writer, shimmer), causing a crisis for the likes of Melville, Gogol, and Flaubert, and leading to "a skepticism toward the real as we encounter it in the narrative." I suspect, however, that some will head straight for the pieces on their literary loves and not be so concerned with Wood's overarching thesis, at least initially. No matter. Each essay also stands on its own, whether the author is positing Jane Austen as "a ferocious innovator" more radical than Flaubert, Melville as the ultimate linguistic spendthrift, or Gogol as "a defensive fantasist."
In a brilliant take on Virginia Woolf--Wood makes even the much-discussed new--he declares (admits?) that "the writer-critic, wanting to be both faithful critic and original writer," is caught "in a flurry of trapped loyalties." But he himself almost always works his way out of such snares, one of the many joys of this book. In his analysis of the several sides of Thomas More, for example, Wood first reads Utopia as a comedy but then suggests we read it "more tragically--not as a Lucianic satire but as a darkly ironic vision of the impossible." The aphorisms and aperçus come thick and strong. (Keepers of commonplace books should start a separate volume just for Wood.) For example, "Leslie Stephen acted like a genius but he thought like a merely gifted man." Or, "Hemingway has a reputation as a cold master of repetition, an icicle formed from the drip of style, while Lawrence is most often seen as a hothead who fell over himself, verbally." And he also has a gift for the telling domestic detail: Gogol "irritated others by playing card games he had invented and then changing the rules during play. He became rather selfishly involved with undercooked macaroni cheese, a dish he made again and again for guests." But Wood will dislike being complimented on his sentences as much as he claims Woolf did. His art, too, must be measured in chapters.
Wood is a great lover, and this makes him if not a great hater then one who gets hot under the critical collar, his ardor turning to irritation and intemperance in pieces on Morrison, Pynchon, and Murdoch. But in his finest discussions--among them one on Chekhov and another on late-20th-century treasure W.G. Sebald--he instantly quickens writers, books, and readers into being. --Kerry Fried
Title: The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and ...
Book Condition: New
Book Description Random House, 1999. Book Condition: Fair. 1st Edition. Former Library book. Binding is slightly damaged and/or book has some loose pages. No missing pages. Bookseller Inventory # GRP85646511
Book Description Random House, 1999. Book Condition: Good. 1st Edition. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP2715773
Book Description Random House. Hardcover. Book Condition: GOOD. Good clean copy with no missing pages might be an ex library copy; Possibly may have minor marginal notes and or highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 2779604157
Book Description Random House Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Light wear to edges and pages. Cover and spine show no easily noticeable damage. Bookseller Inventory # G0375502173I4N10
Book Description Random House Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Very good condition - book only shows a small amount of wear. Bookseller Inventory # G0375502173I4N00
Book Description Random House Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fair. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Bookseller Inventory # G0375502173I5N10
Book Description Random House, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Acceptable. Ex-library book. Note - Stains and wrinkles on several pages. The binding is tight. *NOTE* Stock photo may not represent the actual book for sale. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000465404
Book Description Random House. Book Condition: Acceptable. 0. Ex-Library. 1. Moderate wear. 2. Light interior markings. Bookseller Inventory # BOOK-6023-00125
Book Description Random House, 1999. Book Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 0375502173-2-4
Book Description Random House, NY, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Fine-. Advance Uncorrected Proof. 266pp. Some reviewers marks in margins and text, by well-know literary critic and reviewer. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾". Bookseller Inventory # 076783