Cartesian Sonata by William H. Gass
And Other Novellas

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From the award-winning author of The Tunnel and Finding a Form--four interrelated novellas that explore Mind, Matter, and God. In the first novella, Gass redefines Descartes' philosophy. God is a writer in a constant state of fumble. Mind is represented by a housewife who is a modern-day Cassandra. And Matter is, what (and who) else but the helpless and confused husband of Mind. In the novella that follows, the concept of salvation is explored through material possessions--a collection of kitsch--as a traveling businessman is slowly lost in the sheer surfeit of matter in a small Illinois town. In another, Gass explores the mind's ability to escape. A young woman growing up in ruralIowa finds herself losing touch with the physical world as she loses herself in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. And in "The Master of Secret Revenges," God appears in the form of Descartes' evil demon, Lucifer, as Gass chronicles the life of a young man named Luther and his development from his devilish youth to his demonic adulthood. A profound exploration of good and evil, philosophy and action, filled with the wit and style that have defined the work of William Gass.

About William H. Gass

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William H. Gass-essayist, novelist, literary critic-was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of two novels, The Tunnel and Omensetter's Luck, and eight books of essays, including A Temple of Texts, Tests of Time, and Finding a Form. Gass is a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, the architect Mary Henderson Gass.
Published August 7, 2013 by Knopf. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Displaying crackling verbal energy, a fond fascination with the detritus of our culture (our “priceless and useless and adorable” artifacts), and a shrewd grasp of our conflicting (and conflicted) beliefs, these startling novellas remind us that Gass is the most purely original (and idiosyncratic...

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Publishers Weekly

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While this work may puzzle or even bore some readers, Gass is an engrossing character-portraitist, whose plots depend on psychic and spiritual motions rather than linked events and whose humor, inventiveness and erudition keep the ride inviting, wherever it goes.

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