Writing Into the World

Terrence Des Pres, Author Viking Books $22.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-670-80464-1
Writing with concentrated energy and clarity of moral vision, Des Pres engages the reader in these impassioned, eloquent essays on politics, history, literature and the modern condition. Best known for The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps , he stresses the duty to speak out against evil, be it manifested as the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin's bloodbath, genocide in Armenia or repression in South Africa, Iran, Turkey or Chile. Des Pres, who died in 1987, dismisses most modern American poetry as a self-referential discourse. He champions W. H. Auden, ``a poet for all weathers,'' and identifies a small group of American writers--John Irving, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon--whose fictions are ``useful to spiritual need.'' Whether he is discussing the sublime in Turner's landscapes, Marcel Ophuls's film The Memory of Justice or the threat of nuclear annihilation, Des Pres strikes a responsive chord. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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