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Enemies of Promise Revised ed. Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226115047
ISBN-10: 0226115046
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Very ably introduced by Alex Woloch. . . . One of Connolly’s great gifts was self-deprecation, and one of his easier styles was that of the tongue in the cheek. He puts one in mind of two of the great contemporaries about whom he wrote—George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh.”

(Christopher Hitchens Atlantic Monthly)

“You cannot read Cyril Connolly for very long without wanting to acquire—and then developing—a relationship with the personality of the man himself. This small, podgy, balding, pug-faced, funny, gossipy, lazy, clever, cowardly, hedonistic, fractious, difficult man somehow manages to enshrine in his words and life everything that we aspire to, and that intellectually ennobles us, and all that is weak and worst in us as well.”
(William Boyd Guardian)

“A fine critic, compulsive traveler, and candid autobiographer. . . . [Connolly] lays down the law for all writers who wanted to count. . . . He had imagination and decisive images flashed with the speed of wit in his mind.”
(V. S. Pritchett NYRB)

“Anyone who writes, or wants to write, will find something on just about every single page that either endorses a long-held prejudice or outrages, and that makes it a pretty compelling read. . . . You end up muttering back at just about every ornately constructed pensée that Connolly utters, but that’s one of the joys of this book.”
(Nick Hornby Believer)

“A remarkable book.”
(Anthony Powell)

About the Author

Cyril Connolly (1903–74) was one of the most influential critics of his time, who wrote for such publications as the New Statesman, the Observer, and the Sunday Times. He is the author of many books, including The Rock Pool and The Unquiet Grave.
 
 
 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Revised ed. edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226115046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226115047
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on May 26, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, Connolly did it. As he explains in the opening of the book which he wrote in 1938, the goal of every important writer is to make a book that lasts ten years. That we're here talking about his work more than 75 years later means he succeeded (in fact, he knew this, as a updated edition came out in 1948).

Now, the book is a bit literary and occasionally dated and I even skipped most of the last third, but I'll say it: This is the best book I've ever read on literature, writing and publishing. In it, Connolly discusses all the things that writers face: distractions, critics, influence, self-destructive habits, egotism, financial needs and how these things impacts what they write and whether it will succeed. His famous line "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising" comes from this book and its gems like it that make reading the somewhat tough book worth it.
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In this, his most famous work, Cyril Connolly refers to George Orwell's assessment of "Picture of Dorian Gray" as an unnecessary book, an opinion with which he comes to concur. After finishing this work, I can bring the same charge here. Startling in 1938 when it was first written in its sexual frankness and exposure of the corporal discipline at the public schools of the time, it has since outlived its relevancy, ironic as it is the topic it is ostensibly most concerned with, literary immortality (defined as being read for at least 10 years). The book is divided into 3 sections, the first having to do with varying literary styles (the Mandarin versus the Vernacular), the second with the Enemies of Promise (what makes a writer not live up to his or her potential) and lastly a memoir of his boyhood ending with his graduation from Eton and entrance to Oxford, having just the most superficial connection with the first two .

The first section comes across as a parlor game (similar to placing writers in Isaiah Berlin's Hedgehog or Fox classification system) and ultimately no more helpful than that. The second is full of advice that frequently seems dated and often sexist (writers are encouraged not to have children as the "pram in the hallway" is just a distraction, unless you have a wife willing to deal with said pram and allow you to work). Only the last section, wonderfully written, recalling the petty motivations of boyhood and the intensity of the drive for the "glittering prizes" at Eton, holds up, and even this section goes into details of personalities that were important to the writer but mean little to the reader.
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It was well written and informative to the point it was almost more then I needed to know about literature. I think I may need to read it again which is another way of saying it's a keeper/
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product as described. fast shipping. a++++++
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