The Man Behind the Book: Literary Profiles

Louis Auchincloss, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-82748-2
Perhaps inspired by 17th-century writer John Aubrey's Brief Lives, Auchincloss--with more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit--has written a highly personal collection of critical and biographical sketches of 23 writers who have, he says, ""at one point or another of my life... meant a great deal to me as a reader and writer."" In spite of the title, six of the writers are women. As Auchincloss points out, the ""men"" behind the book have little in common, and not all can be regarded as major literary figures. They range from Cyril Tournier, an almost unknown contemporary of Shakespeare, through Anne Bronte, Alexandre Dumas, Sarah Orne Jewett and Harold Frederic to Amy Lowell, Harold Nicholson and Robert E. Sherwood. Some of them he knew personally, but his most common approach is to quote liberally to show how the writers reveal something of themselves in their work. The tone throughout is graceful, appreciative and a bit avuncular. The observations can be pointed. He describes Maxwell Anderson, for example, as a ""deft craftsman who couldn't write a bad scene or a great play."" Walter Pater is praised for being a great stylist who ""wasn't afraid to sound corny."" Four of the profiles have been published previously. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-547-97116-2
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