Writers and Personality

Writers and Personality

by Louis Auchincloss
     
 

In this concise but pointed volume of ruminations on writers, literary icon Louis Auchincloss considers the inextricable link between a writer’s personality and the fiction he or she creates. The acclaimed novelist examines the works of two dozen writers from his canon of personal favorites, ranging from the seventeenth century’s Pierre Corneille and Jean

Overview

In this concise but pointed volume of ruminations on writers, literary icon Louis Auchincloss considers the inextricable link between a writer’s personality and the fiction he or she creates. The acclaimed novelist examines the works of two dozen writers from his canon of personal favorites, ranging from the seventeenth century’s Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine to the twentieth century’s E. M. Forster and Ernest Hemingway. Auchincloss suggests that great art flows from the expression of a writer’s unique personality-and that, in keeping with this, the stifling of the personal self, as in the case of Anne Brontë, may forestall consummate artistic achievement.

        Taking an expansive approach to the notion of personality, Auchincloss provides succint assessments of the lives, temperaments, obsessions, and interests of his subjects and explores how their personalities materialize in the fiction they produce. In lively prose, Auchincloss’s observations offer an expanded appreciation of these vaunted writers and of the acuity that has earned the author his dedicated following.

        The featured writers are Henry Adams, Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Willa Cather, Pierre Corneille, Theodore Dreiser, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, E. M. Forster, Anatole France, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, John P. Marquand, George Meredith, Prosper Merimée, Marcel Proust, Jean Racine, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, and Edith Wharton.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Auchincloss has read widely for this slim collection of impressionistic essays; the short chapter on Prosper M rim e may well send readers scurrying to their encyclopedias. But for all the considerable charm of his personal reactions to authors ranging from the Bront s to Proust, going through their fiction with his own sense as a novelist of what makes great fiction work, the central thesis-that the personality of the writer may shape, and be discerned in, the writing-is somewhat thin. Most of Auchincloss's literary judgments, such as dubbing Dreiser "a kind of American Zola" or praising Middlemarch as "the greatest novel of manners of the Victorian age," are uncontroversial. Even where he goes against the grain, he does so mildly, noting that Hemingway and Fitzgerald "brought a great art to a minor vision of life." Readers who aren't fluent in French may find the untranslated quotations in passages on Racine and Corneille frustrating. The final chapter on George Meredith is much longer and more comprehensive than any of the other readings, which are only a few pages each. Though the book is suffused with Auchincloss's thoughtful, appreciative readings, it's this longer reflection that best fulfills his intentions. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570035807
Publisher:
University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Pages:
125
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
"Louis Auchincloss is not only a major American novelist, he is also a major American critic. In a series of fascinating sketches, he brings the astute insights of a working writer to the impact of personality on literature, and he does so elegantly, with flair and style."
John Updike
"Auchincloss has done the kind of reading few do any more—Meredith, Trollope, Henry James in bulk!—and gives us the sort of criticism Edmund Wilson used to provide, succinct, alert, frank, and fresh, as if the author were a man or woman who has just walked in the room."

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