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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis; somewhat troubling conclusion...
After finishing Gornick's excellent book, I could not help feeling something grating against my sensibilities. The analysis was flawless, the insight superb, even profound. I spent several hours working the thing through my skull and writing things down to put in order what it was that made me uneasy with Gornick's final proclamation that love (romantic, traditional...
Published on January 27, 1998

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Realism? So last year...
This was warmly praised by George Scialabba, a reviewer I respect who also had kind things to say about Love's Confusions (the last book I slated) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I find this book mucho, mucho underwhelming. Gornick brings a romantic's sensibility to bear so it's not surprising she's disappointed - primarily, one suspects, by life. She picks on...
Published on September 4, 2010 by Simon Barrett


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis; somewhat troubling conclusion..., January 27, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The End of the Novel of Love (Hardcover)
After finishing Gornick's excellent book, I could not help feeling something grating against my sensibilities. The analysis was flawless, the insight superb, even profound. I spent several hours working the thing through my skull and writing things down to put in order what it was that made me uneasy with Gornick's final proclamation that love (romantic, traditional marriage, etc.) no longer serves as a viable metaphor for the making of literature. And even then, after hours of this, I still could not put my finger on it. Reading the Kirkus Review, I found myself even further perplexed. Kirkus says: "Her governing idea is this: Love, sexual fulfillment, and marriage are now exhausted as the metaphorical expressions of success and happiness." Herein lies, I think, part of the problem: I have no trouble agreeing with Gornick that romantic love, marriage, and sexual fulfillment hold little or no true source of success and happiness in and of themselves, both in our time and, I would say, in any time. In this sense, they no longer serve us well as "metaphors" of happiness, as Kirkus notes. However, this is not the extent of Gornick's conclusion, and a somewhat misleading way of describing it. Kirkus fails to continue on to the final idea that not only are these things (romantic love, marriage, sexual fulfillment) not viable metaphors for success and happiness in our lives--they are no longer viable metaphors for the creation of literature as well. In this, I find myself disagreeing with Gornick. In my mind, this is akin to declaring ANY subject an unviable metaphor for the creation of literature. Are we to cease writing of marriage and romantic love simply because the rules have changed and the meanings of these things have shifted with cultural and societal changes? I think the very fact that this marvelous book exists--a book of powerful, insightful literature dealing with our perception and understanding of romantic love, marriage, etc. (both real and literary)--threatens to undermine its whole premise. With dazzling skill and analysis, Gornick proves (perhaps despite herself) that there IS something left to say about love, and that great literature can still arise from an examination of love, and from the metaphor of love. Her love affair with words, her love affair with love, with literature--we see it, we feel it, even if Gornick makes the choice to ignore it and allow the intellectual discourse to play itself out to its solid, logical, somewhat "cold" conlusion (love as mere "necessity?" Eating, sleeping, defecating--these are necessity; surely love is something more than simple necessity...). In the end, Gornick's style, form, language, insight--these become the elements of that great, constant love affair which will always define and drive and sustain literature: the love affair between author and audience.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful reading experience., October 20, 1998
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Nancy Werlin (Massachusetts, United States) - See all my reviews
The essays in this small book on literature, women, and writing are short and simply written, and yet full of the excitement of thought and the importance of literature to our psyches. Gornick made me want (and plan) to read or re-read the books she talks about.
This is simply one of the best books of essays I've encountered in years. Thank you, Vivian Gornick.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars literary criticism of the highest order, December 1, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The End of the Novel of Love (Hardcover)
Vivian Gornick is like the best English professor you ever had--or never had. Her short, cogent essays on women writers and female literary characters will send you back to a rereading of Kate Chopin, Willa Cather, Jean Rhys and others. Vivian Gornick explores the lack of options and choices for women in the past--what was there beyond love and marriage?--and the failure of this thinking for women in the present day, both in life and in literature. She is a feminist who writes without jargon or any academic pretentiousness. I recommend this as literary criticism of the highest order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure pleasure, July 30, 2000
By A Customer
This series of essays reads like wonderful short stories, each about a writer's life and work, as it hones in on the central insight that compelled each one. While its final thesis may prematurely sound the death knell of the genre, it is gently and intelligently argued, and every page is full of insight and delight, conveyed in compact, amusing, speedy sentences. Great beach reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Novels, February 23, 2012
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This is a good book, not her best. Read her biography of her mother. That is a great book. Writing about your parents is rarely successful, this is the great book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Realism? So last year..., September 4, 2010
This was warmly praised by George Scialabba, a reviewer I respect who also had kind things to say about Love's Confusions (the last book I slated) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I find this book mucho, mucho underwhelming. Gornick brings a romantic's sensibility to bear so it's not surprising she's disappointed - primarily, one suspects, by life. She picks on three rather drab modern American males (yeah, Carver - like watching Edward Hopper's paint dry - Ford and her favourite (but he was a lapsed or recovering Catholic) Dubus) to demonstrate that the novel of love is dead; but it's more that trad deadpan 'realism' is being overtaken by the increasing sophistication/artificiality of the world we inhabit. The novel/story of love is still being written (Kundera? haven't read him; Mavis Gallant; Alice Munro? not read her; Lorrie Moore; Lydia Davis (kill me now!) and the divine Scott Bradfield (try Penguins for Lunch); it is love itself that has changed (not the need obviously but its ground rules) as Gornick somewhat reluctantly admits in the title essay, and she's talking about a predominantly pre-pill era. Anyway, Proust's the only novel of love you ever need read (maybe the only novel) and nowadays, with honourably heroic exceptions, good fiction tends to be (a) escapism (or genre) (b) ironic/satirical or (c) allegorical/mythic. The time of George Meredith - along with much else - is past.
I notice that reviews of Gornick's memoir Fierce Attachments are nicely polarised (or spread across the spectrum) so I'm gonna polarise this some!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor writing attempts to describe great writers of our time, March 24, 2009
This book is poorly written and oddly organized. If you absolutely must read or browse this book, visit your local library. I learned more in my high school class reading literary criticism; Gornick may be a good writer in other areas, but English Lit is not her forte. This book was the first thing I have ever returned to Amazon, which is disappointing, considering it was a gift.
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The End of the Novel of Love
The End of the Novel of Love by Vivian Gornick (Hardcover - September 18, 1997)
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