Annal: 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2000.

Book:Quarrel & Quandary: Essays

Quarrel & Quandary: Essays

Cynthia Ozick

In her new collection of essays, Cynthia Ozick, everywhere acclaimed as a critic, novelist, and storyteller, examines some of the world’s most illustrious writers and their work, tackles compelling contemporary literary and moral issues, and looks into the wellsprings of her own lifelong engagement with literature.

She writes—quarrelsomely—about Crime and Punishment, about William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, about the Book of Job. She inquires into the subterranean dispositions and quandaries of Kafka and Henry James. She discusses the difficulties inherent in the translation of great books, whether into film or into another language.

She explores what she calls “the selfishness of art” and courts controversy with her views on The Diary of Anne Frank and its transformation for the stage. Her reflections on the “rights of history” and the “rights of imagination”…[more]

Book:Critical Entertainments

Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New

Charles Rosen

An extraordinarily gifted musician and writer, Charles Rosen is a peerless commentator on the history and performance of music. Critical Entertainments brings together many of the essays that have established him as one of the most influential and eloquent voices in the field of music in our time. These essays cover a broad range of musical forms, historical periods, and issues-from Bach through Brahms to Carter and Schoenberg, from contrapuntal keyboard music to opera, from performance practices to music history as a discipline. They revisit Rosen’s favorite subjects and pursue some less familiar paths. They court controversy (with strong opinions about performance on historical instruments, the so-called New Musicology, and the alleged “death” of classical music) and offer enlightenment on subjects as diverse as music dictionaries and the aesthetics of stage fright. All are unified by Rosen’s abiding concerns and incomparable style. In sum, Critical Entertainments is a treasury of the vast learning, wit, and insight that we have come to expect from this remarkable writer. It will delight all music lovers.

Book:From Dawn to Decadence

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present

Jacques Barzun

Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500.

In this account, Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaisance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have “Puritans as Democrats,” “The Monarch’s Revolution,” “The Artist Prophet and Jester”—show the recurrent role of great themes throughout the eras.

The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long…[more]

Book:Passionate Minds

Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World

Claudia Roth Pierpont

A series of extraordinary explorations of the biographies and literary achievements of twelve modern women writers, Passionate Minds tells the stories of women who “rewrote” the world that they inherited, shaping beliefs about vital issues ranging from religion to sex to race to politics.

Claudia Roth Pierpont organizes these probing portraits into three sections. Broadly speaking, the first deals with issues of sexual freedom, in essays on Olive Schreiner, Gertrude Stein, Anaïs Nin, and—surprisingly, for those who do not know her as a writer—Mae West. The second section, which examines Margaret Mitchell, Zora Neale Hurston, and Eudora Welty, deals with issues of race and the American South during a period of wrenching change and retrenchment. The third focuses on politics, particularly on the experience and historical interpretation of Soviet Communism and Nazi Germany: the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, Ayn…[more]

Book:A Poetry of Two Minds

A Poetry of Two Minds

Sherod Santos

In his long-awaited first book of prose, poet and essayist Sherod Santos takes a compelling look into some of poetry’s deepest secrets, an investigation that leads him to the surprising conclusion that poems have minds of their own, minds often inaccessible even to the one who composed them.

In these essays, Santos explores not only what he thinks about poetry but also what and how poetry thinks about itself. His writings range across the history of Western poetry, from formative classical myths to modern experimental forms, and touch on subjects as diverse as the rhetorical history of cannibalism, the political and cultural uses of translation, and the current state of American poetry. Along the way, he calls on past poets like Ovid, Baudelaire, and Phyllis Wheatley, on twentieth-century poets like Wallace Stevens, H. D., and Rainer Maria Rilke, and on writers and thinkers like Montaigne, Walter Benjamin, Simone Weil,…[more]

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