Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays by Phillip Lopate, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays

Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays

by Phillip Lopate
     
 

“Over the years I have developed a distaste for the spectacle of joie de vivre, the knack of knowing how to live,” begins the title essay by Phillip Lopate. This rejoinder to the cult of hedonism and forced conviviality moves from a critique of the false sentimentalization of children and the elderly to a sardonic look at the social rite of the

Overview


“Over the years I have developed a distaste for the spectacle of joie de vivre, the knack of knowing how to live,” begins the title essay by Phillip Lopate. This rejoinder to the cult of hedonism and forced conviviality moves from a critique of the false sentimentalization of children and the elderly to a sardonic look at the social rite of the dinner party, on to a moving personal testament to the “hungry soul.”
 
Lopate’s special gift is his ability to give us not only sophisticated cultural commentary in a dazzling collection of essays but also to bring to his subjects an engaging honesty and openness that invite us to experience the world along with him. Also included here are Lopate’s inspiring account of his production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya with a group of preadolescents, a look at the tradition of the personal essay, and a soul-searching piece on the suicide of a schoolteacher and its effect on his students and fellow teachers.
 
By turns humorous, learned, celebratory, and elegiac, Lopate displays a keen intelligence and a flair for language that turn bits of common, everyday life into resonant narrative. This collection maintains a conversational charm while taking the contemporary personal essay to a new level of complexity and candor.

Editorial Reviews

Noel Perrin

“Subtle, profound (and slightly devilish). Phillip Lopate can express the nuances of the urban mind better than anyone else I know. Phillip Lopate is one of the best essayists in America.”

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lopate entertains by blasting write-your-own-vows weddings, camaraderie in bars and the enforced gaiety of dinner parties but expounds more positively on movies, friendship and subletting as a lifestyle. ``Despite its cranky title, this lively, unpredictable collection of essays is a joy to read, and read again,'' PW said. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Like such forebears as William Hazlitt, Lopate describes the disjunctions of modern life via a graceful, old-fashioned genre: the leisurely personal essay. His collection, unlike many others, really coheres around a single point: the author's background and voice. Writing on movies, on friendship, on school teaching, on living in an apartment, he is determined ``to wrestle with intellectual confusion, to offer feelings, to set down ideas in a particularly direct and exposed format,'' even to the point of confessional writing. The humor and wisdom derive from the way Lopate's keen, often satirical, attention to the world around him must be reckoned with his own profound vulnerabilities. Libraries that buy serious fiction should acquire these essays for the same kind of readership.-- Donald Ray, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803222731
Publisher:
UNP - Bison Books
Publication date:
10/08/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
773,770
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author


Phillip Lopate is the director of the nonfiction graduate program and teaches writing at Columbia University. He is the author and editor of numerous books including Portrait Inside My Head: Essays, To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction, and Notes on Sontag.

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