Yonder

Yonder

by Siri Hustvedt
     
 

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Sparkling essays on a variety of subjects—literature, art, popular culture, autobiography—by a renowned young American novelist.

In her brilliant and daring novels The Blindfold and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, Siri Hustvedt has won critical acclaim and a rapidly expanding international audience. But she is also a wide-ranging essayist

Overview

Sparkling essays on a variety of subjects—literature, art, popular culture, autobiography—by a renowned young American novelist.

In her brilliant and daring novels The Blindfold and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, Siri Hustvedt has won critical acclaim and a rapidly expanding international audience. But she is also a wide-ranging essayist and critic, frequently reexamining in her fascinating nonfiction many of the central leitmotifs of her fiction.

The six pieces in Yonder, Hustvedt's first book of essays, are all meditations on the complex relationship between art and the world. They include a personal essay on memory and place, which investigates the images we retain from our lives, the lives of others in the world, and the lives of characters in books. In "Vermeer's Annunciation," Hustvedt gives an entirely original interpretation of the Vermeer painting Woman with a Pearl Necklace. In "Ghosts at the Table," she examines the essence of still life as a genre in painting from Cotan and Chardin to Philip Guston. Other essays include a profound piece about Dickens, a reassessment of The Great Gatsby, and a witty and provocative assault on contemporary pieties entitled "A Plea for Eros."

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In this slim medley, novelist Hustvedt (The Blindfold, 1992; The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, 1996) ranges freely from autobiography to Vermeer's Woman with a Pearl Necklace to Dickens to The Great Gatsby. The fine title piece takes as its subject the dichotomy of here and there, and the space in between, or "yonder": Hustvedt's native Minnesota and her parents' Norway, Norway and New York City, where she makes her adult home. She writes about time, space, early memory, or what we ascribe to memory. She wonders what the world is like from her child's point of view, and considers children's sense of place, their preference for order in repetition. ("Yonder" and "home" are the twin poles of the child's universe, notes Hustvedt.) In "Vermeer's Annunciation," a flash of insight into the painting of a young woman trying on a string of pearls leads Hustvedt to seek inspiration for the Dutch artist's composition and figurative gesture in Renaissance depictions of the announcement of the incarnation to the Virgin Mary. Then, in the early master Fra Angelico's Annunciation fresco in Florence, she finds an image as motionless as Vermeer's. "A Plea for Eros" considers the mysterious attraction of strangeness and enchantment Hustvedt is able to feel for her longtime lover. Less personal and memorable but showing Hustvedt's appreciation for Dickens's dense metaphorical structures is a longer, scholarly piece on his last finished novel, Our Mutual Friend. In the closing essay, on still life, Hustvedt locates the primacy of "things" in our experience of solitude and considers the immediacy of the great allegorical paintings of the Dutch. Later painters of still life wanted something different. As shewrites epigrammatically: "I am not tempted by C‚zanne's pears in Still Life with Ginger Jar and Eggplants, because they are not pears. They are forms in the space of my perception." A strong collection. Hustvedt's essays, like the ordinary objects she identifies as the genesis of still life, are "dignified by the metamorphosis we call art."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805050110
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/15/1998
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Siri Hustvedt is the author of two novels, of which one, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, is available from Owl Books (0-8050-5590-8, $12.00). She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and child.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
February 19, 1955
Place of Birth:
Northfield, Minnesota
Education:
B.A. in history, St. Olaf College; Ph.D. in English, Columbia University

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