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An extraordinary literary event: Daniel Mendelsohn's acclaimed two-volume translation of the complete poems of C. P. Cavafy--including the first English translation of the poet's final Unfinished Poems--now published in one handsome edition and featuring the fullest literary commentaries available in English, by the renowned critic, scholar, and international best-selling author of The Lost. No modern poet so vividly brought to life the history and culture of Mediterranean antiquity; no writer dared break, with such taut energy, the early-twentieth-century taboos surrounding homoerotic desire; no poet before or since has so gracefully melded elegy and irony as the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933). Whether advising Odysseus on his return to Ithaca or confronting the poet with the ghosts of his youth, these verses brilliantly make the historical personal--and vice versa. To his profound exploration of longing and loneliness, fate and loss, memory and identity, Cavafy brings the historian's assessing eye along with the poet's compassionate heart. After more than a decade of work and study, Mendelsohn--a classicist who alone among Cavafy's translators shares the poet's deep intimacy with the ancient world--gives readers full access to the genius of Cavafy's verse: the sensuous rhymes, rich assonances, and strong rhythms of the original Greek that have eluded previous translators. Complete with the Unfinished Poems that Cavafy left in drafts when he died--a remarkable, hitherto unknown discovery that remained in the Cavafy Archive in Athens for decades--and with an in-depth introduction and a helpful commentary that situates each work in a rich historical, literary, and biographical context, this revelatory translation is a cause for celebration: the definitive presentation of Cavafy in English.
Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity. It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead. Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of Manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood. And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self. The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut.
Whether he's on Broadway or at the movies, considering a new bestseller or revisiting a literary classic, Daniel Mendelsohn's judgments over the past fifteen years have provoked and dazzled with their deep erudition, disarming emotionality, and tart wit. Now How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken reveals all at once the enormous stature of Mendelsohn's achievement and demonstrates why he is considered one of our greatest critics. Writing with a lively intelligence and arresting originality, he brings his distinctive combination of scholarly rigor and conversational ease to bear across eras, cultures, and genres, from Roman games to video games. His interpretations of our most talked-about films-from the work of Pedro AlmodÓvar to Brokeback Mountain, from United 93 and World Trade Center to 300, Marie Antoinette, and The Hours-have sparked debate and changed the way we watch movies. Just as stunning and influential are his dispatches on theater and literature, from The Producers to Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, from The Lovely Bones to the works of Harold Pinter. Together these thirty brilliant and engaging essays passionately articulate the themes that have made Daniel Mendelsohn a crucial voice in today's cultural conversation: the aesthetic and indeed political dangers of imposing contemporary attitudes on the great classics; the ruinous effect of sentimentality on the national consciousness in the post-9/11 world; the vital importance of the great literature of the past for a meaningful life in the present. How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken makes it clear that no other contemporary thinker is as engaged with as many aspects of our culture and its influences as Mendelsohn is, and no one practices the vanishing art of popular criticism with more acuity, humor, and feeling.
In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic--part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work--that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.
Over the past decade and a half, Daniel Mendelsohn's reviews for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review have earned him a reputation as "one of the greatest critics of our time" (Poets& Writers). In Waiting for the Barbarians, he brings together twenty-four of his recent essays--each one glinting with "verve and sparkle," "acumen and passion"--on a wide range of subjects, from Avatar to the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, from our inexhaustible fascination with the Titanic to Susan Sontag's Journals. Trained as a classicist, author of two internationally best-selling memoirs, Mendelsohn moves easily from penetrating considerations of the ways in which the classics continue to make themselves felt in contemporary life and letters (Greek myth in the Spider-Man musical, Anne Carson's translations of Sappho) to trenchant takes on pop spectacles--none more explosively controversial than his dissection of Mad Men.Also gathered here are essays devoted to the art of fiction, from Jonathan Littell's Holocaust blockbuster The Kindly Ones to forgotten gems like the novels of Theodor Fontane. In a final section, "Private Lives," prefaced by Mendelsohn'sNew Yorker essay on fake memoirs, he considers the lives and work of writers as disparate as Leo Lerman, Noël Coward, and Jonathan Franzen. Waiting for the Barbarians once again demonstrates that Mendelsohn's "sweep as a cultural critic is as impressive as his depth."
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