A penetrating take on twenty-four literary masters, courtesy of a twenty-fifth
In this concise but pointed volume of ruminations on writers, literary icon Louis Auchincloss considers the inextricable link between a writer's personality and the fiction he or she creates. The acclaimed novelist examines the works of two dozen writers from his canon of personal favorites, ranging from the seventeenth century's Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine to the twentieth century's E. M. Forster and Ernest Hemingway. Auchincloss suggests that great art flows from the expression of a writer's unique personality—and that the stifling of the personal self, as in the case of Anne Brontë, may forestall consummate artistic achievement.
Taking an expansive approach to the notion of personality, Auchincloss provides succint assessments of the lives, temperaments, obsessions, and interests of his subjects and explores how their personalities materialize in the fiction they produce. In lively prose, Auchincloss's observations offer an expanded appreciation of these vaunted writers and of the acuity that has earned the author his dedicated following.
The featured writers are Henry Adams, Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Willa Cather, Pierre Corneille, Theodore Dreiser, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, E. M. Forster, Anatole France, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, John P. Marquand, George Meredith, Prosper Merimée, Marcel Proust, Jean Racine, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, and Edith Wharton.
Celebrated and extraordinarily productive novelist, short story writer, and literary commentator Louis Auchincloss has been declared a "living landmark" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. His most recent novel is East Side Story.
"Louis Auchincloss is not only a major American novelist, he is also a major American critic. In a series of fascinating sketches, he brings the astute insights of a working writer to the impact of personality on literature, and he does so elegantly, with flair and style."—Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
"Auchincloss has done the kind of reading few do any more—Meredith, Trollope, Henry James in bulk!—and gives us the sort of criticism Edmund Wilson used to provide, succinct, alert, frank, and fresh, as if the author were a man or woman who has just walked in the room."—John Updike
"No rule says that good fiction writers must be good fiction critics, but distinguished and prolific novelist Auchincloss, expectedly or not, proves himself a very capable one. His collection of brief essays offers literary criticism for the nonacademic reader, which does not mean that in these concise, clear, completely approachable commentaries on past authors of note he dilutes his acuity for his intended audience. What it does mean is that his ideas are couched in eloquent language that is free of jargon."—Booklist
"The book is suffused with Auchincloss's thoughtful, appreciative readings."—Publishers Weekly