Information about the author.
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,…[more]
In this book of new and collected critical essays, Vivian Gornick turns the searching intelligence and honesty of insight that mark her memoirs on the work—and the lives—of writers she admires, among them Jean Rhys, Willa Cather, Christina Stead, and George Meredith. In doing so, she examines a century of novels of love-in-the-Western-world and comes to see that, for most writers, it is the drama of our angry and frightened selves in the presence of love that is our modern preoccupation.