» » Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts

Download Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts fb2

by William H. Gass
Download Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts fb2
History & Criticism
  • Author:
    William H. Gass
  • ISBN:
  • ISBN13:
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Knopf; First Edition edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Pages:
    368 pages
  • Subcategory:
    History & Criticism
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1651 kb
  • ePUB format
    1199 kb
  • DJVU format
    1648 kb
  • Rating:
  • Votes:
  • Formats:
    lrf txt doc docx

Gass’ skills haven’t waned with age, either.

Gass’ skills haven’t waned with age, either.

Life Sentencesis William Gass at his Gassian best. William H. Gass-essayist, novelist, literary critic-was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He writes about a few topics equally burning but less loved (the Nobel Prize–winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun; the Holocaust). He is the author of two novels, The Tunnel and Omensetter's Luck, and eight books of essays, including A Temple of Texts, Tests of Time, and Finding a Form.

William Gass’s Lifelong Attachment to Literature. Continue reading the main story.

Описание: A dazzling new collection of essays-on reading, writing, form, and thought-from one of America's master writers. It begins with the personal, both past and present.

Life Sentences is William Gass at his Gassian best. The greatly admired essayist, novelist, and philosopher, author of Cartesian Sonata, Finding a Form, and The Tunnel, reflects on the art of translation and on Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies - and gives us his own translation of Rilke's masterwork.

p. cm. This is a Borzoi book

p. This is a Borzoi book. What does make a sentence or a line of verse rise from the dead and walk again, run for a record, and even dance as dancers do when blessed? It is important for the reader to respond to these miracles with belief when they occur, because two or three inspired lines can turn a sonnet into a masterpiece, or make what might have been a rather slight little song into an arresting aria.

A dazzling new collection of essays-on reading, writing, form, and thought-from one of America's master writers

A dazzling new collection of essays-on reading, writing, form, and thought-from one of America's master writers.

Essayist, novelist, and literary critic William Gass is one of our most original and brilliant thinkers. If you enjoy an intense intellectual journey (with visits to Kafka, Henry James, Proust, and others), or if you want to dip in and out for a few dazzling insights, this book is for you. Originally Published on sitename. This article was published in Reader's Digest.

A dazzling new collection of essays—on reading, writing, form, and thought—from one of America’s master writers.   It begins with the personal, both past and present. It emphasizes Gass’s lifelong attachment to books and moves on to the more analytical, as he ponders the work of some of his favorite writers (among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Proust). He writes about a few topics equally burning but less loved (the Nobel Prize–winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun; the Holocaust).   Finally, Gass ponders theoretical matters connected with literature: form and metaphor, and specifically, one of its genetic parts—the sentence.   Gass embraces the avant-garde but applies a classic standard of writing to all literature, which is clear in these essays, or, as he describes them, literary judgments and accounts.   Life Sentences is William Gass at his Gassian best.

In "Life Sentences", a collection of essays covering topics biographical, autobiographical, syntactical, critical, and classical, along the way William Gass includes an odd quote from another author, John Gardner: "I have nothing to say, except that I think words are beautiful. I'm a stylist; for me, everything is rhythm and rhyme. There are a handful of other stylists, like Gass, Elkin, Barthelme, Barth, and Ralph Ellison, who have nothing to say either. We just write."

I say "odd quote" because Gass seems to take good-humored umbrage at Gardner's assessment, though I can't believe his intent was malicious, nor can I understand how William Gass can disagree: he is a master stylist, and he can just plain write. About the "nothing to say" part; well, that can't be helped - that's just Gass living up to his surname, to an extent.

William Gass is not every(wo)man's writer, and while there is certainly something in this collection for everyone, only those resolved to read the sentences to their finish will be rewarded. In the age of Twitter, even the pithiest Gassian metaphor will tax the 140-symbol limit. His lexical perambulations will test your patience. His insistence that the Classics matter and that a modern liberal education that excludes them is a waste of time will be passed off as the grumblings of a curmudgeon. He will irritate, flabbergast, pontificate. But one thing William Gass will never do: confuse. He is perspicuity personified (and he would hate the alliteration). You know where he stands because he is tenacious in his quest to allow every thought to resolve itself syntactically, grammatically, and logically. Even if it pushes the paragraph to the near-breaking point. This may seem like a negative criticism, but it is not. Make no mistake: William Gass is worthy of your time, whether you are majoring in the humanities or better, just majoring in being human. The sentences alone - even those which, despite their astounding complexity, don't seem to say much at all - are worth the effort. With Gass, like gas, the effect is cumulative and, ultimately, explosive.

"Life Sentences" offers twenty-two essays filling nearly 350 pages of compound-complex sentences couched in pristinely ordered paragraphs. Brief reminiscences from the life - and pre-life - of a man of letters lead off the collection, with the ultimate essay - "Retrospective" - likely the standout of the group. In a remarkable homage to exactly the type of verbal smothering that he has been accused of, Gass reveals an interesting breakdown of the places where good writing - including his own - tends to go wrong. It is impossible in this space to sufficiently describe his seven deadly literary sins, so a simple listing will have to do: naming, (whoring and) metaphoring, jingling, preaching, theorizing, celebrating, and translating. Enlightenment with every turned page.

Section two offers the author's inevitable commentary on the lives and work (more on the life than on the work) of Gertrude Stein, Malcolm Lowry, Proust, Nietzsche, Kafka, and certainly, Henry James, et al. It is here where Gass's obsession with form - in my opinion - gets the best of him, and he allows politics or simple preference to interfere with his hermeneutic. Said another way, Gass loves Gertrude Stein for what was clearly the hugeness of her character - a character in which there was surely much to admire. But her books? A superior vocabulary, quick wit, and a life of privilege are not prerequisites for "timeless prose" and the essay consumes lines that would have been better devoted to a writer of greater significance. But this is William Gass's book, not mine, so Gertrude Stein, again. Overall, the section offers interesting discussion on the abuse of Nietzsche, a Kafka piece that is borderline genius, and a take on Knut Hamsun worth a read and re-read.

Section three features three installments from lectures he delivered on the Classics. Simply, these essays are brilliant, and alone worth the price of the book. Here, Gass has included his considered take on the Greek literary mechanisms of eidos, mimesis, and metaphor. Stunning, thorough, and challenging, these should be required reading for anyone who would ever pick up a book to read it. Required memorization for anyone who would ever attempt to write. The mimesis essay produced the odd effect in me where I found myself pumping my fist and grunting "YES!" again and again. Really, really good.

The collection closes with three essays on theory. Gass waxes philosophical on what a waste virtues are without their accompanying vices, on narrative sentences, and on sentential aesthetic structure. Good, technical stuff, with a touch of the nostalgic - diagramming sentences just like back in school. The best things truly never get old, and William Gass - 87 years old when he delivered this book - should know.

In summary, a quote: "What does make a sentence or a line of verse rise from the dead and walk again, run for a record, and even dance...?" If you want to know, read "Life Sentences" by William Gass.
One of our country's greatest writers left us late last year; William H. Gass, best known for his iconic fiction works Omensetter's Luck and The Tunnel, was also prolific in his literary criticism, and Life Sentences is the latest and greatest of his collections. Recollection and meditation are the lifeblood of his First Fourth Following 9/11, The Literary Miracle, Slices of Life in a Library, and Retrospection; there are appreciations of the work of Proust, Stein, Nietzsche and Henry James on whom he's written extensively, Malcolm Lowry, John Gardner; herein also shines brilliantly his Biggs Lectures In The Classics on Form: Eido, Mimesis and Metaphor. Perhaps my favorite and certainly the most fun is his essay on Lust, and the best is saved for last: his lapidary and quite musically infused explorations of Narrative Sentences and The Aesthetic Structure of the Sentence. This is writing on writing at its very best.
Fifty years ago I was a grad teaching assistant for Gass at Purdue Unviversity. I learned some approaches to teaching philosophy which I have never forgotten. Gass also taught me to pay attention to language in ways I had never considered. Every one of his books since has been a source of inspiration for me.
William Gass is arguably America's most incisive, versatile, and brilliant literary critic. Whatever subject he analyzes--the Nazis's brutally efficient killing machine, Kafka, Nietzsche, the art of retrospection--he illuminates. His prose is scintillating, witty, experimental in form, and endlessly inventive with metaphors. He is incapable of writing a banal sentence. He wears his vast knowledge with deft assurance. At 88, he is writing with consummate ease and power. LIFE SENTENCES offers readers an unforgettable feast cooked by a master chef. Literary criticism is rarely so pleasurable.
Gass can make an essay about paint drying beautiful and captivating. Thankfully, his content is far more interesting in itself, and his prose style unearths this content in a way only Gass could do. Ranging from essays on Gertrude Stein to Plato's Forms--even his life-long obsession with books and literature--Gass delivers a series of essays that are a guaranteed delight.
Not bad as far as it goes. But much better would be Edmond Wilson's essays on the decades 20, 30, 40, or anything or everything that Mr. Wilson wrote.
This is a better writer than I have found in a long life of reading literature and criticism. Why I hadn't heard of him is a mystery.
This is vintage Bill Gass with terrific insights into the lives and works of many great writers... his "old favorites, and fresh enemies"