The Sophisticated Cat

Overview

In this amazingly diverse new anthology, the eternal cat is captured in the prose and poetry of the world's finest writers from Aesop to Zola. Here are stories by European masters of the form - Balzac, Chekhov, Wodehouse, Saki, and Colette - along with such American masters as Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Damon Runyon, and Ernest Hemingway. The best in contemporary writing is well represented, too, by Joyce Carol Oates, James Herriot, Alice Adams, Angela Carter, and Ursula K. Le Guin, to name just a few. And the ...
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Overview

In this amazingly diverse new anthology, the eternal cat is captured in the prose and poetry of the world's finest writers from Aesop to Zola. Here are stories by European masters of the form - Balzac, Chekhov, Wodehouse, Saki, and Colette - along with such American masters as Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Damon Runyon, and Ernest Hemingway. The best in contemporary writing is well represented, too, by Joyce Carol Oates, James Herriot, Alice Adams, Angela Carter, and Ursula K. Le Guin, to name just a few. And the poets - from Keats and Emily Dickinson to Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop and, of course, Old Possum himself, T. S. Eliot. Finally, a wonderful group of pieces called "The Truth About Cats" collects the wisdom of the ages ranging from Herodotus to Benjamin Franklin to William Faulkner, with many a delightful digression along the way. Utterly irresistible, The Sophisticated Cat is rich, eclectic, and universal in its appeal, the perfect anthology to dip into or to read from cover to cover for all of us who feel the affinity, unbroken for thousands of years, between the soul of that magnificent creature, the cat, and our own. And the perfect gift for cosmopolitan cat-lovers of every literary stripe.

A superb collection of classic stories and poems about cats, composed by no fewer than 99 of history's finest writers. Contributors include Chekhov, Zola, Wodehouse, Saki, Collette, Poe, Twain, Hemingway, Oates, Updike, LeGuin, Keats, Dickinson, Eliot, Franklin, Faulkner, and others.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his introduction to this mostly delightful anthology, Antaeus editor Halpern stresses that cats are not unattached, independent creatures. Yet while many of these stories, poems and essays by 99 literary figures dispel misconceptions of the cat as aloof and uncommunicative, a surprising number of selections (by Faulkner, Rilke, Maupassant and others) propagate those same myths. Among the stories, standouts are Chekhov's tale about the impossibility of forcing a cat to do something against its wishes, P. G. Wodehouse's humorous portrayal of a ``cat-pecked'' artist, Ambrose Bierce's witty fables on cats transcending human expectations and pieces by Twain, Hemingway, Saki and James Herriot. Poetry selections include classics by Christopher Smart, Edward Lear and Vachel Lindsay as well as modern verse by Ted Hughes, John Updike and others for whom the cat is a touchstone teaching us how to achieve equilibrium, how to live. The weakest section, ``Contemporary Storytellers on Cats,'' includes sketches and stories by co-editor Oates, Alice Adams and Francine Prose. The volume ends on a sour note with Roy Blount Jr.'s wrongheaded, ill-informed comparison of cats and dogs (``A cat can't smile''; ``cats are less demanding emotionally ''). BOMC and QPB selections. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452270459
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/1993
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
In a prolific and varied oeuvre that ranges over essays, plays, criticism, and several genres of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has proved herself one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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