“Why do we write?” With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism.
This new collection brings together some of her most brilliant and provocative pieces, covering a diverse range of subjects and ideas. The rough country is both the treacherous geographical/psychological terrains of the writers she analyses, and also the emotional terrain of Oates’s own life following the unexpected death of her husband, Raymond Smith, after 48 years of marriage.
And certain to provoke a variety of reactions, an astringent but objective consideration of the difficulties that confront a (woman) writer—among them (men) writers, from whom Oates quotes with quite devastating effect.
What emerges is a fascinating portrait of the artist as a young woman, fully engaged with her world and her culture—a writer who paradoxically thought of herself as “invisible” while becoming one of the most respected, honored, discussed, and controversial figures in American letters.
The tragic hero dies but is reborn eternally in our dreams; the crudity of our desire for an absolute—an absolute dream, an absolute key—is redeemed by the beauty that so often surrounds this dream. One can explain the dream but never its beauty.
Women in Love is an inadequate title. The novel concerns itself with far more than simply women in love. Gerald and Birkin and Ursula and Gudrun are immense figures, monstrous creations out of legend, out of mythology; they are unable to alter their fates, like tragic heroes and heroines of old.
By Joyce Carol Oates Originally published in the New York Times Book Review, July 11, 1982. Telling stories, I discovered at the age of 3 or 4, is a way of […]
A longtime aficionado of the sweet science, Oates first became interested in boxing as a child, as an offshoot of her father’s interest.
Essays, articles, memoirs … these forms are wrongly considered unimaginative, or, in any case, considered somehow less significant than the imaginative writer’s ‘real’ work. As if one does not speak […]