Creationists by E.L. Doctorow
Selected Essays, 1993-2006

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Synopsis

E. L. Doctorow is acclaimed internationally for such novels as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and The March. Now here are Doctorow’s rich, revelatory essays on the nature of imaginative thought. In Creationists, Doctorow considers creativity in its many forms: from the literary (Melville and Mark Twain) to the comic (Harpo Marx) to the cosmic (Genesis and Einstein). As he wrestles with the subjects that have teased and fired his own imagination, Doctorow affirms the idea that “we know by what we create.”

Just what is Melville doing in Moby-Dick? And how did The Adventures of Tom Sawyer impel Mark Twain to radically rewrite what we know as Huckleberry Finn? Can we ever trust what novelists say about their own work? How could Franz Kafka have written a book called Amerika without ever leaving Europe? In posing such questions, Doctorow grapples with literary creation not as a critic or as a scholar–but as one working writer frankly contemplating the work of another. It’s a perspective that affords him both protean grace and profound insight.
Among the essays collected here are Doctorow’s musings on the very different Spanish Civil War novels of Ernest Hemingway and André Malraux; a candid assessment of Edgar Allan Poe as our “greatest bad writer”; a bracing analysis of the story of Genesis in which God figures as the most complex and riveting character. Whether he is considering how Harpo Marx opened our eyes to surrealism, the haunting photos with which the late German writer W. G. Sebald illustrated his texts, or the innovations of such

literary icons as Heinrich von Kleist, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Sinclair Lewis, Doctorow is unfailingly generous, shrewd, attentive, surprising, and precise.
In examining the creative works of different times and disciplines, Doctorow also reveals the source and nature of his own artistry. Rich in aphorism and anecdote, steeped in history and psychology, informed by a lifetime of reading and writing, Creationists opens a magnificent window into one of the great creative minds of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About E.L. Doctorow

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E. L. DOCTOROW was born in 1931 in New York City and was educated at Kenyon College and Columbia University. His earlier novels are Welcome to Hard Times and Big as Life. Formerly editor-in-chief of a prominent New York publishing house, he was most recently writer-in-residence at the University of California at Irvine. He lives in Westchester County with his wife and three children.
 
Published December 10, 2008 by Random House. 192 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Creationists

Kirkus Reviews

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An eclectic and engaging selection of recent pieces, mostly about other writers, from the award-winning novelist (The March, 2005, etc.).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Creationists: Selected Essays...

Publishers Weekly

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In 16 essays adapted from reviews, book introductions and public lectures, Doctorow explores the theme of literary and scientific creation, considering how creators shape, and are shaped by, the cu

Jun 12 2006 | Read Full Review of Creationists: Selected Essays...

The New York Times

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E. L. Doctorow’s essays about literature seek the “voice of the book” rather than that of the writer.

Sep 24 2006 | Read Full Review of Creationists: Selected Essays...

Publishers Weekly

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In 16 essays adapted from reviews, book introductions and public lectures, Doctorow explores the theme of literary and scientific creation, considering how creators shape, and are shaped by, the cu

Jun 12 2006 | Read Full Review of Creationists: Selected Essays...

Bookmarks Magazine

Doctorow’s third non-fiction collection comprises 16 short essays, many originally written as lectures and reviews, which discuss great writers and their lives and works, from John Dos Passos and Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of Creationists: Selected Essays...

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