Information about the author.
In these fourteen witty and elegant essays, William Gass (“the finest prose stylist in America”—Steven Moore, Washington Post) writes about writing, reading, culture, history, politics, and public opinion.
In the first of three parts, Gass addresses literary matters and writers, and contemplates, among other things: the nature of narrative and its philosophical implications; experimental fiction and its importance; literary “lists” (including the currently controversial canon of western literature) and their use. In part two, Gass looks at social and political contretemps: the extent and cost of political influences on writers; the First Amendment, the Fatwa, and Salman Rushdie; our view of Germany, as in “How German are we?” Finally, Gass gives us a celebration of Flaubert and considers the problems of writing history.
Tests of Time is William Gass at his most dazzling. It is a high-wire act of thinking and writing that serves up what Vladimir Nabokov called an “indescribable tingle of the spine.”
William Gass writes about literary language, about history, about the avant-garde, about minimalism’s brief vogue, about the use of the present tense in fiction (Is it due to the lack of both a sense of history and a belief in the future?), about biography as a form, about exile—spiritual and geographical—and he examines the relationship of the writer’s life to the writer’s work. With dazzling intelligence and wit, Gass sifts through cultural issues of our time and contemplates how written language, whether a sentence or an entire book, is a container of consciousness, the gateway to another’s mind that we enter for a while and make our own.
Author William H. Gass analyzes as though under a microscope the many and varied ways writers carpenter structures with words to house language forms. “Using Freudian concepts, he compares the art of writing to the art of becoming civilized: writing parallels the transformation of raw instinct into shared expression.…Gass writes with impassioned concern”.—Publishers Weekly.
Thirty years in the making, William Gass’s second novel first appeared on the literary scene in 1995, at which time it was promptly hailed as an indisputable masterpiece. The story of a middle-aged professor who, upon completion of a massive historical study, “Guilt and Innocence in Hitler’s Germany”, finds himself writing a novel about his own life instead of the introduction to his magnum opus. The Tunnel meditates on history, hatred, unhappiness, and, above all else, language.
“The haunting evocations of a small-town childhood [are] so sensually rich in detail that the prose is sometimes hypnotic…The Tunnel confronts the questions whether the savagery of the 20th century can still be encompassed by an art that is willing to dig deep enough”—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times.