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Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays Paperback – June 5, 2012
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“No one writing about art today comes closer than Siri Hustvedt to the elusive strangeness of a great painting.” ―Calvin Tomkins
“As an essayist she is perhaps without peer.” ―The Scotland Herald
“She brings both knowledge and an artist's insight to the discussion of memory, language, and personal identity. . . . It is Hustvedt's gift to write with exemplary clarity of what is by necessity unclear.” ―Hilary Mantel
“[Hustvedt] gives you the illusion of seeing as if for the first time works of art that you thought you knew well. After reading her . . . most prose about art seems merely perfunctory.” ―Modern Painters
“Hustvedt thinks her way through complex subject matter with the effortless clarity of a poised and skeptical outsider who has little time for nonsense or the blithe reductionist certainties of supposed experts. . . . Hustvedt is a calm traveler on the storm-tossed seas of the self. Her odyssey . . . deepens understanding.” ―Lisa Appignanesi
About the Author
Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as a growing body of nonfiction including, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna.She lives in Brooklyn.
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Hustvedt has mastered the art of the essay form, bringing together ideas and viewpoints from disparate disciplines.
The essay on painter Giorgio Morandi, puts into words things one often is incapable of uttering before
the impenetrable silence of a Morandi Still Life. Recommended reading.
I have enjoyed reading a number of Siri Hustvedt’s novels and non-fiction. I appreciate her interesting, inspiring writing and her intelligence. “Living Thinking Looking”, Hustvedt’s collection of 32 essays is, in my view, one of the best series of essays I have read.
In summary, “Living” are essays that are reflections of the authors own life. Hustvedt writes about her desires, parents, feelings, her migraines, wild thoughts and sleep/sleeplessness.
The “Thinking” essays cover topics such as memory, emotion, human nature, time, remembrance, perception, and imagination.
“Looking” are essays about visual art. In this section Hustvedt enriched my knowledge of artists such as Vermeer, Goya, Pollack and Kosuth. And the author introduced me to the art of Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, and Darger. Reading these essays has encouraged me to explore/research these artists (and others) more thoroughly. The last chapter in this section, “Embodied Visions: What Does it Mean to Look at a Work of Art?” was particularly inspiring.
Throughout these 32 essays Siri Hustvedt is inviting us to consider how do we see, remember and feel? How do we interact with other people? What does it mean to sleep, dream, and speak? What is “the self”? What does it mean to be human?
Five stars and BRAVO these essays are eloquent and sane.