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Deadly Sins

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Who among us has not enjoyed a sin or two? Sinners all, we've each been tempted! Here are eight renowned authors discoursing on their favorite transgressions. Without guilt one can savor these ruminations in which Thomas Pynchon energetically defends Sloth, Mary Gordon discusses the joys of Anger, Gore Vidal shames us into modesty in his commentary on Pride, and John Updike plays devil's advocate on the subject of Lust. And, as if that's not temptation enough, William Trevor begs indulgence as he relishes the ...
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Overview

Who among us has not enjoyed a sin or two? Sinners all, we've each been tempted! Here are eight renowned authors discoursing on their favorite transgressions. Without guilt one can savor these ruminations in which Thomas Pynchon energetically defends Sloth, Mary Gordon discusses the joys of Anger, Gore Vidal shames us into modesty in his commentary on Pride, and John Updike plays devil's advocate on the subject of Lust. And, as if that's not temptation enough, William Trevor begs indulgence as he relishes the excesses of Gluttony, Richard Howard proves well versed on his coveted topic, Avarice, while A. S. Byatt exorcises the green-eyed demons of Envy. When Joyce Carol Oates chose to explore the only unforgivable sin, Despair, the editors of The New York Times Book Review (where these pieces first appeared) agreed. That was one better than Saint Thomas Aquinas, who first articulated the deadly seven. But why not? Today we have a greater opportunity to sin and a wider knowledge of it, made so deliciously available by contemporary life-styles and the media. So please enjoy!

Who among us has not enjoyed a sin or two? Here are eight of the best present-day writers, discoursing on their favorite transgressions. (Even though Saint Thomas Aquinas only spoke of seven deadly sins, Joyce Carol Oates wanted to explore Despair.) Without guilt, readers can partake as the authors energetically defend Anger, Lust, Pride, and more. Line drawings. 2-color throughout.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Collecting eight essays by eight writers originally published in the New York Times Book Review during the summer of 1993, this anthology considers, one by one, the legendary seven deadly sins. But in addition to sloth, anger, lust, gluttony, avarice, pride and envy, this volume includes despair, which Joyce Carol Oates calls ``the sole sin that cannot be forgiven.'' Although each reflection is engaging and thoughtful, Mary Gordon's description of the murderous nature of anger is especially powerful. William Trevor's experience with a gluttonous accountant skates along the thin line separating comedy and tragedy and Richard Howard offers a poem about avarice. Each sin is whimsically represented by one of Delessert's playful black-and-white line illustrations. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In this collection of essays, which first appeared in the New York Times Book Review, our most distinguished writers court the irresistible attractions of the seven deadly sins-plus one. Sloth, anger, lust, gluttony, avarice, pride, envy, and despair-these are the fodder of great literature, and masters from Thomas Pynchon (on sloth) to Mary Gordon (anger) to Joyce Carol Oates (despair) do them justice. John Updike, tracing the origins of the word lust in early Christianity, offers an eloquent defense of the burning of the flesh that "calls into activity our most elegant faculties." Gore Vidal defines pride as defiance in the face of "powers that enslave us"; he wonders, rather grandiloquently, whether pride is a sin at all. Richard Howard, in his poem about avarice, portrays Balzac, the celebrated author whose characters have excelled in that vice, while William Trevor, in a Dickensian flourish, depicts a singular personage of his acquaintance who perfectly personifies the sin of gluttony. These delightful literary exercises will appeal to all writers and readers.-Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688146160
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/5/1996
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
A huge modern influence, Thomas Pynchon's reputation as a contemporary literary giant is only enhanced by his adamant reclusivity (the photo shown here is one of the few of him ever to be published). His prose is so intimidatingly dense, his novels so thematically grand, that he presents a rewarding challenge to his readers and his would-be protegees.

Biography

Thomas Pynchon was born in 1937. His books include The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Vineland, and Mason & Dixon.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 8, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Glen Cove, Long Island, New York
    1. Education:
      B. A., Cornell University, 1958

Table of Contents

Sloth 10
Anger 24
Lust 40
Gluttony 52
Pride 64
Avarice 74
Envy 82
Despair 104
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