Life Sentences by Joseph Epstein
Literary Essays

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Synopsis

Further literary writings by the foremost practitioner of the informal essay in our time.Reading an essay by Joseph Epstein is much like watching Joe DiMaggio hit a pitched ball: the pleasure is in watching a difficult art performed with matchless grace and ease. In life Sentences, his fourth collection of literary essays, Epstein considers the lives and works of nineteen writers of note, appreciating many of them, roughing up some others, and overall weighing them in the very finely calibrated balance of his wellstocked mind. His subjects include Michel de Montaigne, E Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad, Mary McCarthy, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Robert Lowell, John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson, Elizabeth Bishop, Ambrose Bierce, and Philip Larkin. No overarching theory or grinding ideological ax mars these finely nuanced readings of writers who matter; as Epstein writes, "What unites this collection of literary essays is the interest of the man who wrote them". And what interests him is excellence in literature.Few pleasures in life are as dependable as reading a Joseph Epstein essay. In that sense Life Sentences is another blue-chip public offering.
 

About Joseph Epstein

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Joseph Epstein is the author of, among other books, SnobbJoseph Epstein is the author of, among other books, Snobbery: The American Version, Fabulous Small Jews (a collectionery: The American Version, Fabulous Small Jews (a collection of stories), Envy, and Friendship: An ExposE. He was the ed of stories), Envy, and Friendship: An ExposE. He was the editor of The American Scholar between 1974 and 1997, and for itor of The American Scholar between 1974 and 1997, and for many years taught in the English Department at Northwestern many years taught in the English Department at Northwestern University. His essays and stories have appeared in the New University. His essays and stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Commentary, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazineYorker, Commentary, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. s.
 
Published January 1, 1980 by W. W. Norton & Company. 348 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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McCarthy, no less prickly or ambitious than Wilson, instead gets relegated to the merely clever and outdated, though her literary instincts were arguably sharper (especially about their friend Nabokov) and her fiction demonstrably better.

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Publishers Weekly

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``What is his story?'' asks essayist Epstein ( Plausible Prejudices ) about each person profiled in his third collection of essays, providing revealing looks at writers and thinkers of assorted repute.

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