Life Sentences
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Life Sentences : Literary Judgments and Accounts

By (author) Mr. William H Gass

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A dazzling new collection of essays--on reading, writing, form, and thought--from one of America's master writers. It begins with the personal, both past and present. It emphasizes Gass's lifelong attachment to books and moves on to the more analytical, as he ponders the work of some of his favorite writers (among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Proust). He writes about a few topics equally burning but less loved (the Nobel Prize-winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun; the Holocaust). Finally, Gass ponders theoretical matters connected with literature: form and metaphor, and specifically, one of its genetic parts--the sentence. Gass embraces the avant-garde but applies a classic standard of writing to all literature, which is clear in these essays, or, as he describes them, literary judgments and accounts. ` ` `Life Sentences` is William Gass at his Gassian best.

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  • Hardback | 349 pages
  • 152 x 216 x 33mm | 590g
  • 17 Jan 2012
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • 0307595846
  • 9780307595843
  • 268,103

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Author Information

William H. Gass--essayist, novelist, literary critic--was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of two novels, `The Tunnel` and `Omensetter's Luck, ` and eight books of essays, including `A``Temple of Texts, ``Tests of Time, `and `Finding a Form.` Gass is a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, the architect Mary Henderson Gass.

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Review quote

`Mr. Gass is an ironist of the highest caliber, a metafictional novelist of the Coover, Barth, Pynchon and Gaddis school. At 87, he is an improbable eminence grise of American letters, festooned with accolades; if there is any justice in the world he will one day get his Nobel prize. When he is not deathly serious with his sly, avuncular delivery of 3-in-the-morning-crisis existential epiphanies, he is hilariously subversive . . . Though he is also a masterful novelist--`Omensetter's Luck` (1966) is widely considered a classic--his reputation rests on his criticism and essays . . . As an essayist, his prose is gorgeously musical, ticking along smoothly as if measured out by metronome. He composes miniature fugues and conducts cadenzas while meandering around his subjects . . . [`Life Sentences`] is a literary miracle.` --Vladislav Davidzon, `The New York Observer ` `The pleasures in Gass' new powerhouse essay collection are heady, varied, and many . . . the philosopher-writer is more frolicsome than ever in his fathoms-deep erudition and purring, stalking, and fencing prose. Gass writes so cogently, robustly, and puckishly about literary, metaphysical, and moral matters because he knows his subjects down to their subatomic particles . . . The brainy, ethical, artistic, and ebullient fun Gass has in this brimming volume will exalt every ardent reader.` --Donna Seaman, `Booklist`, starred

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