Tests of Time by William H. Gass

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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.”

About William H. Gass

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William H. Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the recipient of the first PEN/Nabokov Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, a Lanan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, a Medal of Merit for Fiction, an Award for Fiction from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from both the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. He is the author also of Reading Rilke, Cartesian Sonota, and Finding a Form. He lives in St. Louis.
Published February 26, 2002 by Knopf. 336 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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to rest may be to realize that their light comes from a faraway star, that their mode of life has been dead for a long time, and the world in which they are busy killing and constraining is already a bier into which they, with their miseries, have been born.” Only infrequently in these essays, ma...

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Publishers Weekly

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These 14 essays from essayist, novelist and philosopher Gass (Finding a Form, etc.), which first appeared in a variety of other venues, are neatly divided into three sections, "Literary Matters," "Social and Political Contretemps" and "The Stuttgart Seminar Lectures," delivered to a cultural stud...

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Star Tribune

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What a surprise, then, to learn that one of the most original literary minds in the world belongs to an essayist and novelist living in St. Louis: William Gass.

Feb 18 2003 | Read Full Review of Tests of Time

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