The Irresponsible Self
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The Irresponsible Self : On Laughter and the Novel

4.1 (199 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

When James Wood's first collection of essays, The Broken Estate, was published in 1999, the reviewers hailed a master critic. The common thread in Wood's latest collection of essays is what makes us laugh - and the book is an attempt to distinguish between the perhaps rather limited English comedy (as seen in Waugh, for example) and a 'continental' tragic-comedy, which he sees as real, universal and quixotic. A particularly acerbic, and very funny, essay - which has been widely celebrated - deals with Zadie Smith, Rushdie, Pynchon and DeLillo; its title, 'Hysterical Realism', has already entered the phrasebook of literary language. With its brilliant studies of Shakespeare, Dickens and Dostoevsky, Naipaul, Pritchett and Bellow, The Irresponsible Self offers more exhilarating despatches from one of our finest living critics.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 136 x 216 x 19mm | 344g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • PIMLICO
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1844130975
  • 9781844130979
  • 402,179

Review quote

"Wood is one of the finest critics at work today, heir to Coleridge, Hazlitt and V. S. Pritchett...He combines the breadth and seriousness of Edmund Wilson with the pellucid prose style of Cyril Connolly...Wood pursues his craft with a high seriousness the like of which we had not thought to see again after the death of Lionel Trilling" -- John Banville * Irish Times * "Breathtakingly good... James Wood is pretty much as good a general critic of literary fiction as you'll find writing in English at the moment" * The Times * "A stylish writer as well as a clear-sighted reader. His prose bristles with the sort of epigrammatic brilliance that asks challenging questions even when providing answers" * Spectator * "The most urgent and morally demanding critic around is the brilliant James Wood... A second powerful collection" * Guardian * "This is a collection to be read by anyone who wouldn't normally dream of reading literary criticism" * Financial Times *show more

About James Wood

James Wood has been a staff writer and book critic at the New Yorker since 2007. In 2009, he won the National Magazine Award for reviews and criticism. He was the chief literary critic at the Guardian from 1992 to 1995, and a senior editor at the New Republic from 1995 to 2007. He has published a number of books with Cape, including How Fiction Works.show more

Review Text

"This is a collection to be read by anyone who wouldn't normally dream of reading literary criticism"show more

Rating details

199 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 33% (66)
4 50% (99)
3 13% (26)
2 2% (4)
1 2% (4)
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