Unknown Masterpieces: Writers Rediscover Literature's Hidden Classics

Overview

In this original collection, several of today's finest writers introduce little-known treasures of literature that they count among their favorite books. Here Toni Morrison celebrates a great Guinean storyteller whose novel of mystical adventure and surprising revelation transforms our image of Africa, while Susan Sontag raises the curtain on a distant summer when three of the greatest poets of the twentieth century exchanged love letters like no others. Here too John Updike analyzes the rare art of an English ...

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Overview

In this original collection, several of today's finest writers introduce little-known treasures of literature that they count among their favorite books. Here Toni Morrison celebrates a great Guinean storyteller whose novel of mystical adventure and surprising revelation transforms our image of Africa, while Susan Sontag raises the curtain on a distant summer when three of the greatest poets of the twentieth century exchanged love letters like no others. Here too John Updike analyzes the rare art of an English comic genius, Jonathan Lethem considers a hard-boiled and heartbreaking story of prison life, and Michael Cunningham uncovers the secrets of what may well be the finest short novel in modern American literature. Other contributors include such noted authors as Arthur C. Danto, Lydia Davis, Elizabeth Hardwick, Francine Prose, Luc Sante, Colm Tóibín, Eliot Weinberger, and James Wood.

Lucid, polished, provocative, inspiring, these essays are models of critical appreciation, offering personal, impassioned, thoughtful responses to a wide range of wonderful books. Unknown Masterpieces is a treat for all lovers of great writing and a useful and stimulating guidebook for readers eager to venture off literature's beaten tracks.

Eliot Weinberger on Hindoo Holiday by J.R. Ackerley

Arthur C. Danto on The Unknown Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac

John Updike on Seven Men by Max Beerbohm

Jonathan Lethem on On the Yard by Malcolm Braly

Toni Morrison on The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye

Colm Tóibín on The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

Francine Prose on A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

Susan Sontag on Letters: Summer 1926 by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Rainer Maria Rilke

Luc Sante on Classic Crimes by William Roughead

James Wood on The Golovlyov Family by Shchedrin

Elizabeth Hardwick on The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger

Lydia Davis on The Life of Henry Brulard by Stendhal

Michael Cunningham on The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
All 13 essays in this book were commissioned by editors of the "New York Review Books Classics" series-which is now entering its fourth year and has recently published its 100th title-to be used as introductions to unknown masterpieces. These works, such as J.R. Ackerley's Hindoo Holiday, Max Beerbohm's Seven Men, and Boris Pasternak's Letters: Summer 1926, have been reprinted in an effort to make obscure or out-of-print texts available to the public. In his preface, series editor Frank, who believes that these texts "belong to what might be called literature's farther reaches," argues that these "important books are less well known than they should be." This compilation will serve admirably as a springboard for contemporary audiences, inspiring them to borrow these classics from the library. The essays themselves, by writers ranging from John Updike and Toni Morrison to Jonathan Lethem and Colm T ib n, are uniformly insightful and interesting; several are outstanding, even compelling. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590170779
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 157
  • Sales rank: 1,030,496
  • Product dimensions: 5.09 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.46 (d)

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