From Publishers Weekly
"This book is about the urgency, centrality, and reach of human feeling," begins Weinstein, a Brown University literature professor, proposing to use the key works of a wide range of artists-William Blake, James Baldwin, Eugene O'Neill, Edvard Munch and Ingmar Bergman, among others-to demonstrate the ways in which "art is sustenance; art is transformation." An early chapter manages to breathe new life into one of the most co-opted images of recent memory, Munch's masterwork The Scream, and announces a persistent theme of the links between bodies, which can be hurt, diseased or dead, and feelings. The middle three chapters ("Living in the Body"; "Diagnosis: Narratives of Exposure"; "Plague and Human Connection") engage a host of medical analogies, even comparing an EKG with "soul searching," followed by the quandary of "Saying Death," which asks the rhetorical question: "Is our thinking itself not saturated with death?" While most of the actual works Weinstein points toward go a good way toward posing and answering difficult questions in complex and compelling ways, his book often hems in their multifaceted characters. An epilogue, offering yet another examination of Hamlet, notes: "Depression has its writers"; this meta-work does not finally bring us closer to many of those here, or their mortal coils.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Weinstein dreamed one night that his parents wailed in lament, a scream that awakened the entire household. Stunned by the porousness of the subconscious, struck anew by the inextricable interlacing of body and soul, and inspired to contemplate ever more deeply the role art plays in our struggle to come to terms with death, Weinstein embarks on a fresh and original interpretation of somatically oriented works. Discursive and mind expanding, Weinstein's exciting critical foray maps the great themes and revelations of art, which, he insists, is not an intellectual exercise but rather a grand effort to convey what it feels like to be alive. Weinstein discerns intriguing links between medicine and literature (his chapter "Plague and Human Connection" couldn't be more timely and instructive) and excels at lively psychological interpretations of diverse works in which writers and artists transform objective reality into "the supreme subjective record of life." Blending the literary passion of Harold Bloom with the physiological insights of Antonio Damasio, Weinstein offers splendid readings of the creations of James Baldwin, Ingmar Bergman, Edvard Munch, Kafka, Faulkner, William Burroughs, and Toni Morrison, declaring, "Art connects. Art equips. Art is sustenance." Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved