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Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life

by Vivian Gornick

Emma Goldman is the story of a modern radical who took seriously the idea that inner liberation is the first business of social revolution. Her politics, from beginning to end, was based on resistance to that which thwarted the free development of the inner self. The right to stay alive in one's senses, to enjoy freedom of thought and speech, to reject the arbitrary use of power--these were key demands in the many public protest movements she helped mount. Anarchist par excellence, Goldman is one of the memorable political figures of our time, not because of her gift for theory or analysis or even strategy, but because some extraordinary force of life in her burned, without rest or respite, on behalf of human integrity--and she was able to make the thousands of people who, for decades on end, flocked to her lectures, feel intimately connected to the pain inherent in the abuse of that integrity. To hear Emma describe, in language as magnetic as it was illuminating, what the boot felt like on the neck, was to experience the mythic quality of organized oppression. As the women and men in her audience listened to her, the homeliness of their own small lives became invested with a sense of drama that acted as a catalyst for the wild, vagrant hope that things need not always be as they were. All you had to do, she promised, was resist. In time, she herself would become a world-famous symbol for the spirit of resistance to the power of institutional authority over the lone individual. In Emma Goldman, Vivian Gornick draws a surpassingly intimate and insightful portrait of a woman of heroic proportions whose performance on the stage of history did what Tolstoy said a work of art should do: it made people love life more.

The Men in My Life

by Vivian Gornick

Vivian Gornick, one of our finest critics, tackled the theme of love and marriage in her last collection of essays, The End of the Novel of Love,a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In this new collection, she turns her attention to another large theme in literature: the struggle for the semblance of inner freedom. Great literature, she believes, is not the record of the achievement, but of the effort. Gornick, who emerged as a major writer during the second-wave feminist movement, came to realize that "ideology alone could not purge one of the pathological self-doubt that seemed every woman's bitter birthright." Or, as Anton Chekhov put it so memorably: "Others made me a slave, but I must squeeze the slave out of myself, drop by drop." Perhaps surprisingly, Gornick found particular inspiration for this challenge in the work of male writers--talented, but locked in perpetual rage, self-doubt, or social exile. From these men--who had infinitely more permission to do and be than women had ever known--she learned what it really meant to wrestle with demons. In the essays collected here, she explores the work of V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. Throughout the book, Gornick is at her best: interpreting the intimate interrelationship of emotional damage, social history, and great literature. Praise for The End of the Novel of Love:"[Gornick] is fearless.... Reading her essays, one is reassured that the conversation between life and literature is mutually sustaining as well as mutually corrective." --Elizabeth Frank, New York Times Book Review "Reading [Gornick] is a thrilling, invigorating, challenging experience." --Barbara Fisher, Boston Sunday Globe "Vivian Gornick's prose is so penetrating that reading it can be almost painful.... [This book] stands out as a model of luminous clarity." --Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times Praise for The Solitude of the Self:"I love writers who treat thinking as a dynamic process. Ms. Gornick does--here and in all her books. Imagine a photographer of the psyche. She studies her subject from all angles. Whether in close-up or on a landscape crowded with political and religious movements, she explores the public and private selves.... What a potent book this is!" --Margo Jefferson, New York Times A Boston Review Book

The Oasis

by Mary Mccarthy Vivian Gornick

A vicious and brilliant satire of human vanity from the author of the classic bestseller The Group.Long out of print, Mary McCarthy's second novel is a bitingly funny satire set in the early years of the Cold War about a group of writers, editors, and intellectuals who retreat to rural New England to found a hilltop utopia. With this group loosely divided into two factions---purists, led by the libertarian editor Macdougal Macdermott, and the realists, skeptics led by the smug Will Taub---the situation is ripe not only for disaster but for comedy, as reality clashes with their dreams of a perfect society.Though written as a roman à clef, McCarthy barely disguised her characters, including using her former lover Philip Rahv, founder of Partisan Review, as the model for Will Taub. As a result, the novel caused an absolute explosion of outrage among the literary elite of the day, who clearly recognized themselves among her all-too-accurate portraits. Rahv threatened a lawsuit to stop publication. Diana Trilling, Lionel Trilling's wife, called McCarthy a "thug." McCarthy's friend Dwight McDonald (Macdougal Macdermott) called it "vicious, malicious, and nasty."Never one to shy away from controversy, McCarthy's portrait of her generation had indeed drawn blood. But the brilliance of the novel has outlasted its first detonation and can now be enjoyed for its aphoritic, fearless dissection of the vanities of human endeavor.In an added bonus, the renowned essayist Vivian Gornick details in a moving introduction the importance of McCarthy's intellectual and artistic bravery, and how she influenced a generation of young writers and thinkers.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Solitude of Self: Thinking About Elizabeth Cady Stanton

by Vivian Gornick

A champion of the women's movement of the 1970s, Gornick reviews the life of one of the 19th-century founders of the movement for women's rights. For more than 50 years Elizabeth Cady Stanton battled for equal rights for women, educating, inspiring, and organizing women across the country. Gornick looks at parallels between the movements and draws upon her own life and evolution as a feminist.

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