Conceiving a novel is a difficult business, so it's natural that a writer turns to other disciplines - philosophy, physics, psychoanalysis, religion and so on - for helpful models and metaphors. Later, at least in conventional fiction, there's a tendency to cover one's tracks, so as not to interfere with the reader's suspended disbelief. But in ''The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind,'' Rebecca Goldstein not only lays her tracks bare, she boldly whistles us over to inspect them....Rebecca Goldstein is an ambitious and in many ways courageous writer. She has worked hard to concoct a novel out of a passage of the ''Phaedrus,'' Plato's dialogue of eros and logos. And alas, because she quotes that passage to us at length, we discover it to be a good deal more moving, more alive, than what she has fashioned from it. -- New York Times
- Publisher's Weekly
The author of The Mind-Body Problem , whose nimble portrait of a yeshiva girl-turned-Ivy League philosophy graduate student was astutely authentic, is on shakier ground here with a German emigre protagonist, the daughter of a Nazi, who is a brilliant and beautiful philosophy professor at an American university. In a novel brimming with philosophical arcana and Holocaust angst, young Eva Mueller, scarred by guilt, falls prey to a devastating relationship with a warped son of Holocaust survivors. In the wake of the affair, Eva seals off her heart and her sensual self, reserving affection only for her beloved Spinoza and Plato, until one summer, as she turns 47, she becomes infatuated with a 20-year-old student. The motives for Eva's passion and dispassion as well as her feelings for her father are obscure. Nonetheless, Goldstein is as pungent as ever, as Eva's robust and tart gaze takes in academics, students, book editors, authors ``who write not because there is something that must be said but rather because we must say something,'' popular culture, the life of the mind vs. ``the female state,'' and the futility and rewards of pedagogy. (May)
The liberation of Eva Mueller, a middle-aged German-American professor of philosophy, does not come easy. Having lived in the self-protected world of the intellect all her life, she must first submerge herself in the unhappy reality of her past--recalling that her father, a German musicologist, was a Nazi accomplice. Eva's acceptance of her past and of the validity of her emotions is sparked by her unlikely relationship with Michael, an enthusiastic if callow young student. This novel of self-realization is supported by the philosophies of Plato, Spinoza, and Wagner and sprinkled with German history. Its intellectual power and involving characterization cancel out occasional slips into triteness. Engaging for anyone who enjoys philosophy, the academic world, or stories of self-awareness and romance.-- Jean Keleher, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN is the author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel and of six works of fi ction. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has received many awards for her fiction and scholarship, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She lives in Massachusetts.