Sight-Readings: American Fictions

Elizabeth Hardwick, Author Random House (NY) $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-375-50127-2
Hardwick's latest roundup of literary essays is a gallery of startling portraits. She presents novelist Edith Wharton as a freewheeling social historian who used New York City as a frame of reference in her dissection of American society's heartlessness and predatory sexuality. Peering behind New England protofeminist Margaret Fuller's ""dramatic and romantic presentation of herself,"" Hardwick finds an eccentric full of mannerisms, a ""profoundly urban,"" unlikely convert to Transcendentalism, ""which nearly turned her into a fool."" Whether she is plumbing Joan Didion's roots in the American West, John Updike's learned obsession with sexuality, Katherine Anne Porter's flagrant fabrications about her past or John Cheever's alcoholism and ""gentrification"" of his concealed homosexual lusts, the eminent critic and novelist combines passionate engagement with her subjects and a conversational style informed by prodigious scholarship. In her close readings of Henry James, Philip Roth, Djuna Barnes, Vachel Lindsay, Gertrude Stein and Edgar Lee Masters, Hardwick succeeds in her abiding goal of relating literature to life, making these lapidary essays (most of which appeared in the New York Review of Books) into uncanny reconnoiterings of the American psyche. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 978-0-375-75371-8
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.