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The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick (New York Review Books Classics)

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The first-ever collection of essays from across Elizabeth Hardwick's illustrious writing career, including works not seen in print for decades. Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she cov The first-ever collection of essays from across Elizabeth Hardwick's illustrious writing career, including works not seen in print for decades. Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she covers civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, describes places where she lived and locations she visited, and writes about the foundations of American literature—Melville, James, Wharton—and the changes in American fiction, though her reading is wide and international. She contemplates writers’ lives—women writers, rebels, Americans abroad—and the literary afterlife of biographies, letters, and diaries. Selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney, the Collected Essays gathers more than fifty essays for a fifty-year retrospective of Hardwick’s work from 1953 to 2003. “For Hardwick,” writes Pinckney, “the poetry and novels of America hold the nation’s history.” Here is an exhilarating chronicle of that history.


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The first-ever collection of essays from across Elizabeth Hardwick's illustrious writing career, including works not seen in print for decades. Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she cov The first-ever collection of essays from across Elizabeth Hardwick's illustrious writing career, including works not seen in print for decades. Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she covers civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, describes places where she lived and locations she visited, and writes about the foundations of American literature—Melville, James, Wharton—and the changes in American fiction, though her reading is wide and international. She contemplates writers’ lives—women writers, rebels, Americans abroad—and the literary afterlife of biographies, letters, and diaries. Selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney, the Collected Essays gathers more than fifty essays for a fifty-year retrospective of Hardwick’s work from 1953 to 2003. “For Hardwick,” writes Pinckney, “the poetry and novels of America hold the nation’s history.” Here is an exhilarating chronicle of that history.

30 review for The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick (New York Review Books Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    This is a wonderful collection compiled and introduced by Darryl Pinckney. The essays span 50 years, from 1953 to 2003. They're mostly literary, but Hardwick was also as comfortable addressing social issues as she was astute in scrutinizing them. Particularly in the '60s she looked at race in Selma and Watts. She was also perceptive in writing about places: the politics of Chicago, her love of Maine, the many contradictions of Brazil. But the meat of the collection and by far the larger subject This is a wonderful collection compiled and introduced by Darryl Pinckney. The essays span 50 years, from 1953 to 2003. They're mostly literary, but Hardwick was also as comfortable addressing social issues as she was astute in scrutinizing them. Particularly in the '60s she looked at race in Selma and Watts. She was also perceptive in writing about places: the politics of Chicago, her love of Maine, the many contradictions of Brazil. But the meat of the collection and by far the larger subject is literature and writers. She knew most of her contemporaries she writes about. Her range, though, extends from the 1830s and Margaret Fuller to our present day and Joan Didion. Her judgement seems exact. She considered Nabokov master class. Pinckney studied under Hardwick, and he uses the same term for her. He writes in his introduction, "Her passions were instructive". It's a comment that's true as well for readers of these essays.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Do we have critics like this anymore? I honestly don't know. Someone please tell me. Elizabeth Hardwick manages to pull apart literature first, and then the world, examine them inside and out, and always remain aware of her own position, but at the same time, not obsessing over her own self as the interpreter. Her interpretation is often harsh, but not excessively so, and her adulation is often intense, but not excessively so -- she's more than willing to slap her heroes and forgive her enemies. Do we have critics like this anymore? I honestly don't know. Someone please tell me. Elizabeth Hardwick manages to pull apart literature first, and then the world, examine them inside and out, and always remain aware of her own position, but at the same time, not obsessing over her own self as the interpreter. Her interpretation is often harsh, but not excessively so, and her adulation is often intense, but not excessively so -- she's more than willing to slap her heroes and forgive her enemies. And -- and this should be the criterion for any critic -- she makes me want to read books I haven't read and reread those I have.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jape

    Reading Elizabeth Hardwick's collected essays, composed as they were between 1953 and 2003, teaches this particular thirty-nine-year-old communicant and enthusiastic student of life nothing if not that he still has much to learn. Sometimes one feels almost defeated when confronting the writing of masters of the very highest caliber, but I am actually mightily grateful I cannot write half as well as Elizabeth Hardwick, as I lack the constitution necessary to withstand the delight in myself such g Reading Elizabeth Hardwick's collected essays, composed as they were between 1953 and 2003, teaches this particular thirty-nine-year-old communicant and enthusiastic student of life nothing if not that he still has much to learn. Sometimes one feels almost defeated when confronting the writing of masters of the very highest caliber, but I am actually mightily grateful I cannot write half as well as Elizabeth Hardwick, as I lack the constitution necessary to withstand the delight in myself such gifts would confer. The supernatural rightness is consistently a matter less of facts than of greater truths. She has her own ideas about truth and accuracy; of a short story by Elizabeth Bishop she remarks “The story is true, but it cannot be accurate because of the artfulness.” I have long held William H. Gass to be the finest ever writer of English sentences whose fiction finds him working prodigiously at the highest level of mastery and whose essays are without peer. Well, not so much without peer as it turns out. A full immersion in the product of her craft establishes Hardwick very much as his peer, an equal at the very least. Gass, however, is far more butch. If he is a big swooping bird of prey with enormous talons, Hardwick moves across densely furnished rooms with the litheness and speed of a cat. We might say she splits the difference between the loquacious onrush of Gass and the balletic dexterity of Joan Didion, about whom she has written appreciatively, though it should be clear that the scope of her learning is more comparable to that of the former. She excels at niceties of phrasing--I shouldn't think anybody could, for example, improve upon her “crocodilian celebrity" when it comes to encapsulating the public persona of Truman Capote--but what routinely ultimately wows is the operation of her thinking and the sublime efficacy of ratiocination. She shares with Nabokov, as the Russian transplant demonstrates in his Cambridge lectures, a fascination with plotting and literary architecture. She loves a good sentence just as she is able to provide them with punctual regularity, but what wins her heart are the fiction writer's worlds, inhabitable and amenable to fruitful scrutiny. Fictional constructs are also available for the incursion of her wit, often dry. “In A SINGLE MAN," she summarizes, " the central character dies at the end, a very common plot device that has more convenience in fiction than in life.” Though I repeatedly (in fact almost constantly) found myself intoxicated with the process at the heart of these fabulous pieces, it is nonetheless tempting to quote them at length, to consequently reduce them to juicy fragments. There are sentences and paragraphs here that could nurture one for several lifetimes worth of suspended animation. Little diamonds like her beautiful line on Ring Lardner: “He wrapped his dreadful events in a comic language, as you would put insecticide in a bright can.” Of Nathanael West: “He is wild, imaginative, and for all the mishaps in his pages and the comic drive, he is a reporter covering a fire and then going out for a beer." West is a writer I love very much. Ring Lardner is a writer I intend to get to in short order, entirely on account of Hardwick's fascinating consideration of his stories. Most people who read this book will come away with fattened reading lists. You may also find much to recommend in appreciations of old favourites. She and I are both very fond of Henry James' WASHINGTON SQUARE, and her keen interpretation is very much consonant with my own, though her finesse produces a beautiful ache. Some of the essays move away from direct literary criticism towards cultural commentary or even a kind of encompassing sociology. She was productively attentive to the Civil Rights movement and sundry sociocultural mutations. Here too she has an eye for the exemplary detail: “Looters," in Memphis after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., "have sought the consolations of television sets and whiskey”; she overseas the nightmare of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and pronounces that “With the lawlessness of law, misery fell from the sky.” The 1970s: “Instead there is random crime. Random—a felicitous phrase that gives no substance to the devastation.” She has a remarkable grasp of “the structural defects of accumulated history.” Hardwick has a special fondness for Victorian literature as well as what we might call American masters with a public profile and more often than not a classical bent. She loves to study the letters of these writers, seeing them almost as intimates. Many of them were in fact intimates. She was close to Mary McCarthy and Edmund Wilson, for example, each the subject of an essay included in this collection. She has less time for the experimental or the avant-garde. She doesn't have much interest in the "post-modernists," putting the term in scare quotes where I agree it belongs, though does concede in the 1960s that TRISTRAM SHANDY had probably become a more salient model than THE SCARLET LETTER. Indeed. Indeed it had. She admires Pynchon, she says in passing, but cannot imagine that anybody would prefer to read GRAVITY'S RAINBOW over DEAD SOULS. I know that I for one would hate to have been deprived of either. Occasionally we are pleasantly surprised: averse as she is to hyperbole or impertinent enthusiasm, we know that she is paying a very big compliment when she calls Renata Adler's SPEEDBOAT “a work of unusual interest.” The personal essay is always to some extent an encapsulation of sensibility. We hope to find in it evidence of an unusual personality with unique habits of insight-formation. Hardwick provides us evidence of her congenial singularity in abundance. You don't only admire her craft, her genius, you take her in as a spiritual familiar. The great writers all become our curious friends. They have no say in the matter. The relationship is not one-sided but only the next best thing. I feel very close to this writer from whom I have learned so much in such short time. She can tell us something profoundly true like that “Sex, without society as its landscape, has never been of much interest to fiction.” She can also reveal presentiments of a profoundly personal species, no less true (though differently so). I feel compelled to excerpt an entire paragraph, also on sex, and one I love very much: “Sex, sex—what good does it do anyone to 'study' more and better orgasms, to open forbidden orifices, to experiment, to put himself into the satisfaction laboratory, the intensive care ward of 'fulfillment.' The body is a poor vessel for transcendence. Satiety, in life, is quick and inevitable. The return of anxiety, debts, bad luck, age, work, thought, interest in the passing scene, ambition, anger cannot be deferred by lovemaking. The consolations of sex are fixed and just what they have always been.” If the body is a poor vessel for transcendence than what is the recommended one? The whole book serves as an unimpeachable answer to that question. A life's work. A life very well lived. I would like to end on one final masterstroke. In quoting pedantic and "governessy" English critic Peter Conrad's patronizing statement that Hannah Arendt "decamped [sic] from Germany during Hitler's persecution of Jews," Hardwick delivers the most holy shit knock-out application of the three letter Latin adverb [sic] in the history of sleeves-rolled-up criticism. Zing. Hardwick, again, for the win.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    The header picture of this review is Elizabeth Hardwick talking with her (former) student Darryl Pinckney, also a novelist and critic. He writes the introduction to this collection from the perspective what it was like to be the student of Hardwick. This is exactly the kind of introduction this book needs. She’s a critic to be sure, and a wonderful writer, but she’s not the kind of critic that you find in contemporary literature journals. Her stuff is a little more timeless, written for a public The header picture of this review is Elizabeth Hardwick talking with her (former) student Darryl Pinckney, also a novelist and critic. He writes the introduction to this collection from the perspective what it was like to be the student of Hardwick. This is exactly the kind of introduction this book needs. She’s a critic to be sure, and a wonderful writer, but she’s not the kind of critic that you find in contemporary literature journals. Her stuff is a little more timeless, written for a public intelligentsia, and in that way it might not have as much depth as academic writing, but it has more weight. In an early essay, Hardwick gives us everything we need to know about her writing in the essay “The Decline of Book Reviewing,” which I quoted in the title of the post: “In America, now, oblivion, literary failure, obscurity, neglect–all the great moments of artistic tragedy and misunderstanding–still occur, but the natural conditions for the occurrence are in a curious state of camouflage, like those decorating ideas in which wood is painted to look like paper and paper to look like wood. A genius may indeed go to his grave unread, but he will hardly have gone to it unpraised. Sweet, bland commendations fall everywhere upon the scene; a universal, if somewhat lobotomized, accommodation reigns. A book is born into a puddle of treacle; the brine of hostile criticism is only a memory. Everyone is found to have ‘filled a need,’ and is to be ‘thanked’ for something and to be excused for ‘minor faults in an otherwise excellent work.’ ‘A thoroughly mature artist’ appears many times a week and often daily; many are the bringers of those ‘messages the Free World will ignore at its peril.'” (1959). I will come back in a later review to the topic of commercialization of art and writing from a perspective from Britain of the 1890s when I finish reading New Grub Street by George Gissing. However, just looking at this quotation and placing it in a context of the late 1950s, it seems incredible to me how prescient and correct she is. I pay close attention to a lot of books coming out. I will leave aside genre fiction, pop culture, and YA because those do in fact fill a particular marketplace and audience that should be a little more guarded against serious criticism. And a final point on those kinds of works, so long as they are enjoyable and relatively harmless (so, for example, not deeply racist or anti-trans) they should escape much criticism beyond someone liking it or not. But I am concerned about the state of public literary criticism in the production of adult fiction that also has aspirations on being literary. There’s some really bad writing that happens every year but gets pushed out publicly as very good because of the marketability of the subject matter, the take on a given topic, the biography or interest of the author, and the PR presence/branding the book goes through. And because of a close relationship with reviewers, blogs, publishers, there’s very little pushback against this kind of writing. This writing might be ok, but is otherwise forgettable, but perhaps it fulfills a niche in the marketplace (I reviewed no fewer than four books published in 2017 last year that focus as a subject “trans-racial adoption”. And that topic is important, but that doesn’t mean the novels addressing it were. I think of those four two will be completely off the landscape in a year or so. The other two, one because of quality and the other because of popularity will likely stick around. So I don’t wish for less writing; in fact, I want more. But I also long for more honesty about that writing and more honesty about what fiction is and what it can do. As for the rest of this book, each essay is interesting either for what it says, when it said it, or what it’s about. I plan o using this book more so in the next few weeks, so you will see more from it as I read some of the subjects of her essays alongside returning to the essays themselves. I like having reading assignments to guide my path a little bit and along with my goals from my Mavis Gallant review, I hope to write my reviews a little conscientiously too. Cheers!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A brilliant reader and a witty, subtly poetic, deeply learned, and quite accessible writer. I wanted to include a list of great aphorisms and insights but since you can find several per page...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Howard Cincotta

    As a regular reader of The New York Review of Books, I am well familiar with the high standards for the literary essay set by writer and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, for whom such reviews were not an adjunct or commentary on American literature, but the thing itself. She held her writers, and herself, to these same standards; these essays may sprawl over many topics, and span 50 years, but they are never casual or tossed off. Each, in its own way, is a deep dive into its subject. Hardwick is not av As a regular reader of The New York Review of Books, I am well familiar with the high standards for the literary essay set by writer and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, for whom such reviews were not an adjunct or commentary on American literature, but the thing itself. She held her writers, and herself, to these same standards; these essays may sprawl over many topics, and span 50 years, but they are never casual or tossed off. Each, in its own way, is a deep dive into its subject. Hardwick is not averse to knocking a few pediments off the pedestals of America’s landmark writers, but she has no interest in dethroning any of our familiar literary monuments, from Emerson and Melville to Hemingway and Phillip Roth. Hardwick is a defender of the canon, not a revisionist. She dismisses the macho ethos that surrounds Hemingway, for example, but defends his accomplishments as a writer. A review of Roth’s American Pastoral offers a compelling metaphor: “… a plot as thick as starlings winging to a tree and then flying off again.” Her essay “Melville in Love” is masterful in its balanced look at how Melville both hid and revealed aspects of his character in his work. Hardwick is especially good on America’s women writers, such as Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. She describes Gertrude Stein as “sturdy as a turnip,” but beyond such bon mots, Hardwick offers a serious assessment of Stein’s uncompromising commitment to modernism in her work. A highlight of the collection, for me, is the long essay on Margaret Fuller, someone with whom I am relatively unfamiliar. Hardwick provides an exhaustive meditation on her life and work, with insightful accounts of her prickly character, complex friendship with Emerson, and her often harrowing adventures among European revolutionaries in Italy. Her death in a shipwreck, returning to America with husband and son, was tragic. I also will never regard Nathaniel Hawthorne in the same way, after Hardwick’s account of his callous treatment of Fuller. You may not want to swallow Hardwick’s essays whole and complete, but any semi-serious student of American literature will certainly enjoy selectively nibbling at these rich and rewarding selections.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lisac

    An unfailingly thoughtful, thought-provoking, highly informed and very well written collection of essays about American literature and American culture. The overall impression is one of absolute commitment to quality in both thought and writing — something of a rarity these days (and probably other days as well). I did not read the essays when they were originally published, a career and children taking up time that might otherwise have gone to reading the New York Review of Books. There may be s An unfailingly thoughtful, thought-provoking, highly informed and very well written collection of essays about American literature and American culture. The overall impression is one of absolute commitment to quality in both thought and writing — something of a rarity these days (and probably other days as well). I did not read the essays when they were originally published, a career and children taking up time that might otherwise have gone to reading the New York Review of Books. There may be some value in tackling them as a group since doing so brings into focus the broad sweep of what Hardwick was achieving. Plus, her essays on Philip Roth and Joan Didion were explanatory enough that I don't have to read the novels of either author, which is a relief. Skipped the essays on Mary McCarthy, Katherine Anne Porter, Margaret Fuller and Carl Sandburg; maybe I should look at those sometime to see what Hardwick did with work that does not interest me. Aside from the general level of intelligence, one is struck by the many phrases that almost beg to be quoted for others; e.g., Hardwick's wry and possibly ambiguous summation of the floridly exuberant and overflowing, word-packed novels of Thomas Wolfe: "Whether the new millennium with its gifts will include the time to read them is the question." Hardwick herself did not suffer from gargantuan wordiness. Her prose is a model of density. At a few points her sentences may be distilled to the point of being cryptic, but that is by far the lesser flaw. Noted the book mentioned on Twitter, so I guess there is some use to that medium after all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christian Belanger

    Hardwick's really incisive, especially on individual writers or works (Margaret Fuller, Washington Square, "Melville In Love"). It's writing for a general audience that tries to explore complexity usefully, instead of merely acknowledging its existence, and does what she points out Nabokov is so concerned with in his lectures: recapitulating plots and lives saliently, in captivating style. (Explains why she hates biographies that pile fact on fact relentlessly.) Probably at her worst when she ta Hardwick's really incisive, especially on individual writers or works (Margaret Fuller, Washington Square, "Melville In Love"). It's writing for a general audience that tries to explore complexity usefully, instead of merely acknowledging its existence, and does what she points out Nabokov is so concerned with in his lectures: recapitulating plots and lives saliently, in captivating style. (Explains why she hates biographies that pile fact on fact relentlessly.) Probably at her worst when she takes on unmanageably large topics like the Watts rebellion or, uh, all of Brazil, and ends up floundering about in a kind of vague abstraction.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Green

    A brilliant collection of thought-provoking essays by a writer with an incisive mind and a keen intellligence. Covering a wide range of subjects, the essays are in the main literary and about literature, but there is much here that could serve as a precedent for literary pieces in current media. I especially enjoyed "The Decline of Book Reviewing" where she says many book reviews are characteristed by "a mush of concession", where "the flat praise and the faint dissension, the minimal style and A brilliant collection of thought-provoking essays by a writer with an incisive mind and a keen intellligence. Covering a wide range of subjects, the essays are in the main literary and about literature, but there is much here that could serve as a precedent for literary pieces in current media. I especially enjoyed "The Decline of Book Reviewing" where she says many book reviews are characteristed by "a mush of concession", where "the flat praise and the faint dissension, the minimal style and ... the absence of involvement, passion, character, eccentricity" have dragged reviews in even prestigious book reviewing columns down to the lowest common denominator.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Graham

    One of the great essay writers in the English language. A writers' writer writing about writers and writing. What could go wrong? At over 600 pages, it is a monster of a book-almost overwhelming in its riches. Ms. Hardwick brings it, that rare quality, truth. Or, to be more precise, truth as she saw it. Perhaps because of that, she has largely disappeared: Women have excelled in the performance arts: acting, dancing, and singing—for some reason Simone de Beauvoir treats these accomplishments as One of the great essay writers in the English language. A writers' writer writing about writers and writing. What could go wrong? At over 600 pages, it is a monster of a book-almost overwhelming in its riches. Ms. Hardwick brings it, that rare quality, truth. Or, to be more precise, truth as she saw it. Perhaps because of that, she has largely disappeared: Women have excelled in the performance arts: acting, dancing, and singing—for some reason Simone de Beauvoir treats these accomplishments as if they were usually an extension of prostitution. Elizabeth Hardwick, The Collected Essays, (New York: New York Review of Books, 2017), 51

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom Baker

    Hardwick is a beautiful writer -- her "Seduction and Betrayal" is among my favorite collections of criticism -- and these essays consistently feature striking language and sharp insights. For these alone "The Collected Essays" are worth your time. That said, many of these pieces discuss pieces, writers, and debates that have begun to slip into obscurity, so the reader's attention can wander, wondering what all the fuss was about. On the other hand -- and somewhat remarkably -- for the most part Hardwick is a beautiful writer -- her "Seduction and Betrayal" is among my favorite collections of criticism -- and these essays consistently feature striking language and sharp insights. For these alone "The Collected Essays" are worth your time. That said, many of these pieces discuss pieces, writers, and debates that have begun to slip into obscurity, so the reader's attention can wander, wondering what all the fuss was about. On the other hand -- and somewhat remarkably -- for the most part Hardwick's politics have aged quite well, despite some of these essays dating to the 1950s. Hardwick's discussion of race, in particular, seems relatively modern, especially when contrasted with many of her contemporaries, though she does exhibit a strikingly tin ear when it comes to topics of poverty and class. The excitement of mid-century New York intellectual ferment comes through, but so too does a strong sense of disconnect from the lives of millions of Americans outside this bubble. As she writes, "if artists could save a man from a lifetime of digging coal by digging it themselves one hour a week, most would refuse." Great collections of critical essays should excite the reader about writers they've not read, or who they may have previously dismissed. Great critics can shine light on previously obscure points, and extract insights that show a writer or a work in a new light, and Hardwick excels here. But as some of these works lose their contemporary relevance, there is ultimately less here than I had hoped, and by the time she returns for the third time to Mary McCarthy -- a dear friend who provided Hardwick with unwavering support when her husband left her -- readers may find the 600+ pages to be slow-going.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J Katz

    I was not sure who Elizabeth Hardwick was and she came up a few times in conversations so decided to get this book. Some of the essays are about William and/or Henry James but I didn't enjoy them much so quit reading. On William kept thinking about Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life by John Kaag. Of course a different time and viewpoint but just quit reading. EH (1916-2007) was born in Lexington KY and married to Robert Lowell. I should read some of the essays on rac I was not sure who Elizabeth Hardwick was and she came up a few times in conversations so decided to get this book. Some of the essays are about William and/or Henry James but I didn't enjoy them much so quit reading. On William kept thinking about Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life by John Kaag. Of course a different time and viewpoint but just quit reading. EH (1916-2007) was born in Lexington KY and married to Robert Lowell. I should read some of the essays on racism to get better idea- will try that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Novelist, critic, and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, Elizabeth Hardwick was an influential character in the New York literary scene in the second half of the twentieth century. This collection includes 50 years of her writings from 1953-2003. I reviewed the collection for the Cleaver, here:https://www.cleavermagazine.com/the-c... Novelist, critic, and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, Elizabeth Hardwick was an influential character in the New York literary scene in the second half of the twentieth century. This collection includes 50 years of her writings from 1953-2003. I reviewed the collection for the Cleaver, here:https://www.cleavermagazine.com/the-c...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I can't remember why I decided to read these essays but very glad I did. A chunky book that took me a while to get through but enjoyed almost all of it. She's the only person who ever made me think I might like to read Henry James, quite an accomplishment. If there were an index I would buy the book. I can't remember why I decided to read these essays but very glad I did. A chunky book that took me a while to get through but enjoyed almost all of it. She's the only person who ever made me think I might like to read Henry James, quite an accomplishment. If there were an index I would buy the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Ray

    A few essays had marvelous insight, but overall she was a tough read. I've either become a flabby reader (quite possible) or she was simply an elusive writer. I couldn't nail down her point half the time. But it made me miss the days when criticism was a thing and it had teeth and bite and snark. The women critics of the time were out for blood. More please. A few essays had marvelous insight, but overall she was a tough read. I've either become a flabby reader (quite possible) or she was simply an elusive writer. I couldn't nail down her point half the time. But it made me miss the days when criticism was a thing and it had teeth and bite and snark. The women critics of the time were out for blood. More please.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    I probably only read about half these pages because many of Hardwick’s subjects don’t interest me. Both the subjects which do—Melville, for example, Elizabeth Bishop—are quite intelligently covered here. And she leads you to want to read other books you haven’t gotten to yet.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Kelley

    11/10, first read as an ARC and have returned to it nearly every week since for some reason or other. genius. i only wish this edition were more complete? there are many shorter gems of criticism scattered about that don't make appearance here. 11/10, first read as an ARC and have returned to it nearly every week since for some reason or other. genius. i only wish this edition were more complete? there are many shorter gems of criticism scattered about that don't make appearance here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzyharris

    I confess I skipped some of the essays, especially towards the end but found much to fascinate and never tired of the author’s voice and views on such a range of authors and social-political circumstances. Her scope of knowledge was breathtaking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Evan Dent

    Simply the best critic of the 20th century

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    might not be well-read enough to appreciate this yet. may try again in a few years.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    Brilliant, as expected.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    Just great! Great collection from Elizabeth Hardwick and Darryl Pinckney.

  23. 5 out of 5

    GONZA

    I have never read any work of fiction wrote by Elizabeth Hardwick, but from time to time I would read a book with her Introduction and sometimes, the introductions were the best part. So I was delighted to read this collection of Essay and I would have loved to know every author and story she was talking about. Unluckily it is not so, but it was still a fantastic reading! Non ho mai letto i romanzi o le storie di Elizabeth Hardwick, ma mi é capitato spesso di leggere dei romanzi con la sua introd I have never read any work of fiction wrote by Elizabeth Hardwick, but from time to time I would read a book with her Introduction and sometimes, the introductions were the best part. So I was delighted to read this collection of Essay and I would have loved to know every author and story she was talking about. Unluckily it is not so, but it was still a fantastic reading! Non ho mai letto i romanzi o le storie di Elizabeth Hardwick, ma mi é capitato spesso di leggere dei romanzi con la sua introduzione, e a volte erano l'unica cosa che si salvava. Quindi sono stata felicissima di leggere questa raccolta e avrei anche voluto conoscere ogni autore qui nominato, ma purtroppo non é stato così, ciononostante é stata una fantastica lettura! THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alana Celii

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Passage

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Donlon

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Luetzen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yev Kravt

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pierre Corbeau

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