The Broken Estate by James Wood
Essays on Literature and Belief

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Synopsis

This book recalls an era when criticism could change the way we look at the world. In the tradition of Matthew Arnold and Edmund Wilson, James Wood reads literature expansively, always pursuing its role and destiny in our lives. In a series of essays about such figures as Melville, Flaubert, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, and Don DeLillo, Wood relates their fiction to questions of religious and philosophical belief. He suggests that the steady ebb of the sea of faith has much to do with the revo-
lutionary power of the novel, as it has developed over the last two centuries. To read James Wood is to be shocked into both thinking and feeling how great our debt to the novel is.
        In the grand tradition of criticism, Wood's work is both commentary and literature in its own right--fiercely written, polemical, and richly poetic in style. This book marks the debut of a masterly literary voice.
 

About James Wood

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James Wood is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. He is the author of How Fiction Works, as well as two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, and a novel, The Book Against God, all published by FSG.
 
Published November 6, 2013 by Modern Library. 304 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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His interest in realism notwithstanding, Wood fixes his critical lodestar in the 19th century, when “the Gospels began to be read, by both writers and theologians, as a set of fictional tales [and] fiction became an almost religious activity.” His thesis that “the novel .

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Publishers Weekly

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At a mere 33 years old, Wood has produced an unlikely and brilliant first book collecting his reviews (from the New Republic, where he is the full-time book critic, the London Review of Books and else

May 31 1999 | Read Full Review of The Broken Estate: Essays on ...

Austin Chronicle

Although he raves about Thomas Pynchon and Philip Roth, he doesn't give much credit to John Updike or Don DeLillo, and his review of Toni Morrison's Paradise is almost hostile (although I suspect this is because he may have been angered by infatuated reviewers overlooking obvious flaws in the book).

Sep 22 2000 | Read Full Review of The Broken Estate: Essays on ...

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