Information about the author.
With dashing originality and in prose that sings like an entire choir of sirens, Cynthia Ozick relates the life and times of her most compelling fictional creation. Ruth Puttermesser lives in New York City. Her learning is monumental. Her love life is minimal (she prefers pouring through Plato to romping with married Morris Rappoport). And her fantasies have a disconcerting tendency to come true—with disastrous consequences for what we laughably call “reality.”
Puttermesser yearns for a daughter and promptly creates one, unassisted, in the form of the first recorded female golem. Laboring in the dusty crevices of the civil service, she dreams of reforming the city - and manages to get herself elected mayor. Puttermesser contemplates the afterlife and is hurtled into it headlong, only to discover that a paradise found is also paradise lost. Overflowing with ideas, lambent with wit, The Puttermesser Papers is a tour de force by one of our most visionary novelists.
From one of America’s great literary figures, a new collection of essays on eminent writers and their work, and on the war between life and art. The perilous intersection of writers’ lives with public and private dooms is the fertile subject of many of these remarkable essays. Written with wit and passion, they touch on the inmost identity of literature and the literary artist—with biographical, historical, and psychological overtones. T. S. Eliot sympathizes with fascists, Isaac Babel rides with Red Cossacks—yet both are luminous shapers of modernism. Modernism itself is resisted by the American cultural establishment. Henry James, magisterial psychologist, remains at the mercy of his own mysterious psyche. Anthony Trollope’s masterliness is obscured, first by charges of writing too much and too fast, and then by cultism. Salman Rushdie’s gifts are assailed amid bitter contemporary controversy. And the secret pulse of ambition (and loss) is exposed in the brokenhearted waywardness of the once-celebrated and now nearly forgotten writer Alfred Chester.
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]
The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale’s life, leaving her middle-aged and alone, teaching in an impoverished borough of 1950s New York. A plea from her estranged brother gives Bea the excuse to escape lassitude by leaving for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows; but the siren call of Europe threatens to deafen Bea to the dangers of entangling herself in the lives of her brother’s family.
Travelling from America to France, Bea leaves the stigma of divorce on the far side of the Atlantic; newly liberated, she chooses to defend her nephew and his girlfriend Lili by waging a war of letters on the brother she has promised to help. But Bea’s generosity is a mixed blessing: those she tries to help seem to be harmed, and as Bea’s family unravel from around her, she finds herself once again drawn to the husband she thought she had left in the past… …[more]
A small group of Jews weave a web of intrigue and fantasy around a book reviewer’s contention that he is the son of Borus Schultz, the legendary Polish writer killed by the Nazis before his magnum opus, The Messiah, could be brought to light.