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Metaphor & Memory [Paperback]

Cynthia Ozick
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 3, 1991
From the author of The Messiah of Stockholm and Art and Ardor comes a new collection of supple, provocative, and intellectually dazzling essays. In Metaphor & Memory, Cynthia Ozick writes about Saul Bellow and Henry James, William Gaddis and Primo Levi. She observes the tug-of-war between written and spoken language and the complex relation between art's contrivances and its moral truths. She has given us an exceptional book that demonstrates the possibilities of literature even as it explores them.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 30 impassioned essays, reviews and orations, Ozick ( Bloodshed ; The Pagan Rabbi ) interprets fiction as a moral battleground. She reads Primo Levi's restrained, lucid testament to Nazi atrocities as a sifting of the criminal imagination and J. M. Coetzee's novelistic portrayal of South Africa as evidence of the hoaxes and self-deceptions of stupidity. She admires Henry James, who is "more and more our contemporary," as well as Chekhov, Cyril Connolly, Italo Calvino, William Gaddis and Saul Bellow. The biblical Book of Ruth, Sholem Aleichem, S. Y. Agnon and Chaim Bialik serve as springboards for her soaring meditations on Jewish identity and culture. Topical pieces broach the problems of translating poetry, American speech patterns, the value of little magazines, postmodernism. Culled from the New York Times Book Review , Partisan Review , New Republic , Harper's and elsewhere, the selections reflect Ozick's interests and commitments.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Readers of Ozick's fiction and previous book of essays ( Art & Ardor , Knopf, 1983) will be prepared for the range and tone of this new collection: appreciation of writers as disparate as Dreiser and Gaddis, a special interest in Jewish themes (Bialik, Agnon, Levi), a recurrent brooding on the relationship of creativity and morality, personal reminiscence, and that special heritage that Ozick has created for herself--an uneasy but fruitful daughterhood of Old Testament covenant and Henry James. The tone will also be familiar: a passionate intelligence energized by language, made manifest in language, and aimed ultimately at language. Occasionally the word -passion becomes self-indulgent and flabby and sometimes the intelligence stiffens into a cold rigidity. But when the passion and the intelligence merge--as they frequently do--Ozick's essays achieve an incandescence that is both heat- and light-bearing.
- Earl Rovit, City Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 3, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679734252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734253
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magisterial essayist. June 15, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Avoid Cynthia Ozick if you would rather be hip than learned. If you wish to read a remarkable analysis of how we (they) came to revere the hip over the learned, turn to "The Question of Our Speech: The Return to Aural Culture," the collection's best essay. Ozick is a thinker of luminous seriousness. I reread her gratefully.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding literary essays January 24, 2005
Format:Paperback
Cynthia Ozick is one of the finest essayists writing today. In this very rich volume she writes about Cyril Connaly, William Gaddis, Italo Calvino, J.M.Coetze, Primo Levi, Saul Bellow, Henry James, Dreiser, George Steiner, Sholem Aleichem, Agnon, and Bialik. In the title essay she writes in a more theoretically than in the other essays. " Metaphor" she writes," is also a priest of interpretation; but what it interprets is memory. Metaphor is compelled to press hard on language and storytelling; it inhabits language at its most concrete.As the shocking extension of the unknown into our most intimate, most feeling, most private selves, metaphor is the enemy of abstraction. Irony is of course implicit..Think how ironic your life would be if you passed through it without the power of connection! Novels, those vessels of irony and connection, are nothing if not metaphors. The great novels transform experience into idea because it is the way of metaphor to transform memory into a principle of continuity. By " continuity" I mean nothing less than literary seriousness, which is unquestionably a branch of life- seriousness"

These essays are at once serious and rewarding, challenging and enriching.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pompous windbag writes well June 22, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Useful for the last essay in particular; clearly well read author who enjoys the loud orchestra of her mind. found the archipelago of the imagination to be a useful image
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Writer sometimes Writes Brilliantly March 5, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The essay with the same name as the title of this book is excellent, but I found the rest of them disappointing.
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