The Nearest Thing to Life

The Nearest Thing to Life PDF/EPUB ë Nearest Thing to
  • Paperback
  • 134
  • The Nearest Thing to Life
  • James Wood
  • English
  • 03 July 2017
  • 161168742X

About the Author: James Wood

The Nearest Thing to Life PDF/EPUB ë Nearest Thing to nearest book, thing ebok, life free, The Nearest free, Thing to book, The Nearest Thing to LifeNearest Thing to download, The Nearest Thing to Life ePUBJames Douglas Graham Wood is an English Thing to Epub Ù literary critic, essayist and novelist He is currently Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University a part time position and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazineWood advocates an aesthetic approach to literature, rather thanideologically driven trends in academic literary criticismWood is noted for coining the genre term hysterical realism, which he uses to denote the contemporary conception of the big, ambitious novel that pursues vitality at all costs Hysterical realism describes novels that are The Nearest PDF/EPUB ² characterized by chronic length, manic characters, frenzied action, and frequent digressions on topics secondary to the story.


The Nearest Thing to LifeThe Nearest Thing to Life PDF/EPUB ë Nearest Thing to nearest book, thing ebok, life free, The Nearest free, Thing to book, The Nearest Thing to LifeNearest Thing to download, The Nearest Thing to Life ePUBIn this remarkable blend of memoir and Thing to Epub Ù criticism, James Wood has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life He argues that, of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives, and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works among others, Chekhov s story The Kiss , WG The Nearest PDF/EPUB ² Sebald s The Emigrants, and Fitzgerald s The Blue FlowerWood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word we see the development of a provincial boy growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he makes between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness The Nearest Thing to Life is not simply a brief, tightly argued book by a man commonly regarded as our finest Nearest Thing to MOBI õ living critic it is also an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer and critic , and asks us to re consider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.

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10 thoughts on “The Nearest Thing to Life

  1. Cheryl says:

    In the essay Serious Noticing , James Wood says that the great writers notice the details It is a Chekhovian eye for detail, the ability to notice well and seriously, the genius for selection that infuses a story and brings it to life He thinks of details as nothing less than bits of life sticking out of the frieze of form, imploring us to touch them Karl Ove Knausgaard, Chekhov, Elena Ferrante, Henry James, Saul Bellow are among the many writers he touches upon The essay called Why In the essay Serious Noticing , James Wood says that the great writers notice the details It is a Chekhovian eye for detail, the ability to notice well and seriously, the genius for selection that infuses a story and brings it to life He thinks of details as nothing less than bits of life sticking out of the frieze of form, imploring us to touch them Karl Ove Knausgaard, Chekhov, Elena Ferrante, Henry James, Saul Bellow are among the many writers he touches upon The essay called Why is introduced with a poignant yet clear eyed description of the memorial service of a friend s brother, using that as the springboard for the question of why do we die Why do we live What is the point Reading fiction has as profound a role as religion He sprinkles these seeds of ideas before him, striding confidently through his essay like a farmer planting out his crops for the umpteenth time He knows exactly how he wants to grow these This is a slim book Why was first published in the New Yorker, Secular Homelessness was published in London Review of Books, and parts of the other two Serious Noticing and Using Everything appeared in a couple of literary journals Even though I d read a couple of these essays before, it was a delight to be reacquainted.It s wonderful having a guide that so eloquently notices the details of the noticers

  2. Tuck says:

    Wood and me have always gone round and round, me thinking him too too flippant about some writing I really like,, him going all deep haaaarvard about writings I think facile and boring Plus, he s seemed so un generous at times to writers But then over generous to others Well, I guess he s got his reasons, and this book has reconciled us somewhat the wedding is BACK ON joke, please.This book is from a series of lectures at brandeis, and a talk at british museum and LRB s essay But have bee Wood and me have always gone round and round, me thinking him too too flippant about some writing I really like,, him going all deep haaaarvard about writings I think facile and boring Plus, he s seemed so un generous at times to writers But then over generous to others Well, I guess he s got his reasons, and this book has reconciled us somewhat the wedding is BACK ON joke, please.This book is from a series of lectures at brandeis, and a talk at british museum and LRB s essay But have been polished up for written form a love letter and justification for readers, literature lovers, thinkers, and james wood too has nice endnotes and are tourdeforce example of how how much literature and citation is in james wood s head From page 63 64, chapter on how literature how writers and readers seriously notices things To notice is to rescue, to redeem to save life from itself One of the characters in Marilynne Robinson s novel Housekeeping is described as a girl who felt the life of perished things In the same book, Robinson writes of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to rescue him, a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail I like the idea that heaven might reward us for what we have lost by paying attention to detail, that heaven must perforce be a place of serious noticing But perhaps we can bring back life, or extend life, here on earth, by doing the same by applying what Walter Benjamin once called the natural prayer of the soul attentiveness We can bring the dead back by applying the same attentiveness to their shades as we apply to the world around us by looking harder by transfiguring the object Benjamin s phrase comes in a letter to Adorno about Kafka perhaps Adorno was recalling this idea of attentiveness when he wrote, in Negative Dialectics , that if the thought really yielded to the object, if its attention were on the object, not on its category, the very objects would start talking under the lingering eye See, there they are, talking to us the poplars, the lilac, and the roses That peppermint tingle The kiss From the summation, the last page of this thoughtful, fun book about books and james wood, page 123 124 He is taling about writers writing from exile, or place anyway, where they come from, where they ended up, and wood s idea of homelooseness Almost but not quite When I left England eighteen years ago, I didn t know then how strangely departure would obliterate return how could I have known It s one of time s lessons, and can only be learned temporally What is peculiar, even a little bitter, about living for so many years away from the country of my birth is the slow revelation that I made a large choice many years ago that did not resemble a large choice at the time that it has taken years for me to see this and that this process of retrospective comprehension in fact constitutes a life is indeed how life is lived Freud has a wonderful word, afterwardness, which I need to borrow, even at the cost of kidnapping if from its very different context To think about home and the departure from home, about not going home and no longer feeling able to go home, is to be filled with a remarkable sense of afterwardness it is too late to do anything about it now, and too late to know what should have been done And that may be all right My Scottish grandmother used to play a game, in which she entered the room with her hands behind her back You had to guess which hand held a sweet, as she intoned Which hand do you tak , the richt or the wrang When we were children, the decision seemed momentous you HAD at all costs to avoid the disappointment of the empty wrang hand Which did I choose

  3. Abby says:

    Art is the nearest thing to life it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot George EliotGeorge Eliot has provided the perfect epigraph for James Wood s commentary on fiction and its importance in our lives,specifically its importance in his life These four essays, which originated as lectures at Brandeis University and the British Museum, combine critical insights with memoir and it is his personal reflecti Art is the nearest thing to life it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot George EliotGeorge Eliot has provided the perfect epigraph for James Wood s commentary on fiction and its importance in our lives,specifically its importance in his life These four essays, which originated as lectures at Brandeis University and the British Museum, combine critical insights with memoir and it is his personal reflections that give them color and flavor Interspersed with discussions of why we read, the writer s practice of serious noticing, and the experience of the writer as exile or expatriate are glimpses of young James Wood in the provinces of England, discovering reading and, at the age of 15, picking up a remaindered book on novels and novelists in Waterloo station that will profoundly influence his life as a reader Delightful

  4. Matt says:

    Four stars mainly because he sort of reiterates a few insights that appeared in previous books Not the worst literary crime of all time, and I happen to agree with them, but there it is Butimportantly, I think he has a beautifully lucid, learned and accessible writing style and the way he weaves personal testimony with literary analysis always delights and instructsAnd here s mycomprehensive, official type review Four stars mainly because he sort of reiterates a few insights that appeared in previous books Not the worst literary crime of all time, and I happen to agree with them, but there it is Butimportantly, I think he has a beautifully lucid, learned and accessible writing style and the way he weaves personal testimony with literary analysis always delights and instructsAnd here s mycomprehensive, official type review

  5. Jaclyn says:

    I m certain it helped that I heard Wood give a reading of the first part of the fourth chapter I had his wonderfully lyrical voice, his lilting cadence, to accompany the experience of consuming his words on my own I loved homelooseness, afterwardness, vignettes into Wood s life, and becoming familiar with his style of literary criticism With books like these, I often find myself wanting to have a discussion with John, to hear his perspective.

  6. Jeffrey Howard says:

    James Wood is charming, weaving sentimental antidotes from his own life with quotations and allusions to the many literary works which have impacted him Waxing nostalgic, and introspective on how life matters to us, Wood is in his prime He echoes the voice of a sharp literary critic who has softened with age.The Nearest Thing to Life is a collection of 4 short essays derived from lectures given in the past few years In Why he visits the overlapping themes between religion and literature Th James Wood is charming, weaving sentimental antidotes from his own life with quotations and allusions to the many literary works which have impacted him Waxing nostalgic, and introspective on how life matters to us, Wood is in his prime He echoes the voice of a sharp literary critic who has softened with age.The Nearest Thing to Life is a collection of 4 short essays derived from lectures given in the past few years In Why he visits the overlapping themes between religion and literature The novel serves as a new home for the secular homeless , those for whom religion has failed to enrich their lives, fallen short of answering the mystery of existence One of his greatest gifts from Why reveals the power of the novel We are just getting through the instances eating breakfast, going to work, earning a living, making sure the children get to school, and so on even when the instances are joyous, time goes slack and we are not able to see, in our great relaxation, the shape of our moments, their beginnings and ends, their phrases and periods..At the service, I was struck by the thought that death gives us the awful privilege of seeing a life wholeThere is this strangeness of a life story having no shape oraccurately, nothing but is present until it has its ending and then suddenly the whole trajectory is visible In Serious Noticing he elaborates on what differentiates artists writers in particular from the rest of us In ordinary life, we don t spend very long looking at things or at the natural world or at people, but writers do It is what literature has in common with painting, drawing, photographycivilians merely see, while artists looka fairly good test of literary quality is if a sentence or image or phrase of a writer comes to your mind unbidden when you are, say, just walking down the street But you might also be standing in front of a tree And, if you should see a bird climbing the trunk of a tree, you will see indeed that it flinches its way upFiction is extraordinarily good at dramatizing how contradictory people are How we can want two opposed things at once Using Everything is the weakest of his 4 essays Wood recounts how his stumbling upon an encyclopedia of novel summaries became his initiation into the world of literary criticism These short descriptions seemed like passionate messages sent to me from inside the world of literature they had an intoxicating air of urgent aesthetic advocacy, an apparent proximity to the creative source, a deep certainty that writing mattered, that great books were worth living and dying for, that consequently, bad or boring books needed to be identified and winnowed out This, I felt, was how writers spoke about literature It conjured up for me my early memories of picking up Freud s The Interpretation of Dreams from the library at age 12 to share with my friends at a sleepover I have been a student of psychology ever since Secular Homelessness is an ideal way to end a generally contemplative series of essays He muses on what it means to be an exile oraccurately, what his homelessness in America willfully separated from his English homeland has meant He links it to the nearly universal experience of leaving home and returning to a home that could never be the same, which shall always exist as an ideal which was never experienced Most of us leave home, at least once there is the necessity to leave, the difficulty of returning, and then, in later life as one s parents being to falter, the necessity to return againWhat is peculiar, even a little bitter, about living for so many years away from the country of my birth is the slow revelation that I made a large choice many years ago that did not resemble a large choice at the time that it has taken years for me to see this and that this process of retrospective comprehension in fact constitutes life is indeed how life is lived Sounding like a man who has found acceptance in his large choices that always seemed so small, I hope we can enjoy manyyears of his literary commentary, his insights, and his pleas for us to use everything , every tool we have to unpack the gift of literature to give our lives clarity

  7. Elena Sala says:

    The essays collected in this slim volume were originally delivered as lectures They are a very personal blend of memoir and critical reflection from one of the living critics I like best.He takes his title and epigraph from George Eliot Art is the nearest thing to life it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot Wood believes that the meaning of life, if there is one, can be found in art, or,specifically, i The essays collected in this slim volume were originally delivered as lectures They are a very personal blend of memoir and critical reflection from one of the living critics I like best.He takes his title and epigraph from George Eliot Art is the nearest thing to life it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot Wood believes that the meaning of life, if there is one, can be found in art, or,specifically, in literature Literature can provide us with a deep, nuanced, moral education because we are allowed to see the failings of others but we are not encouraged to condemn them And this is so because the others are the product of the imagination, not real people.Wood is not a critic addicted to theory, but to literature These thoughtful meditations on literature and its consolations explain why this excellent reader enjoys such an extraordinary authority

  8. E.E. says:

    So, literature for JW is the nearest thing to life Stories in life and literature are dynamic combinations of surplus I like this definition Literary criticism should not be about books, but a critical retelling a way of writing throughbooks And I agree with him here too What Goodreads tells us about this book is taken from the back cover and summarizes very well the merits of the books I always wonder who writes those praising blurbs the editor somebody who is paid just to So, literature for JW is the nearest thing to life Stories in life and literature are dynamic combinations of surplus I like this definition Literary criticism should not be about books, but a critical retelling a way of writing throughbooks And I agree with him here too What Goodreads tells us about this book is taken from the back cover and summarizes very well the merits of the books I always wonder who writes those praising blurbs the editor somebody who is paid just to read and write those hooks to attract readers buyers the author himself herself

  9. Jrossi72yahoo.Com says:

    Absolutely great Read it twice in one week Can t wait to read it again About life and fiction and the bridge between Made me want to sit down with him for an evening or two and just listen

  10. Abby says:

    Literature, like art, pushes against time s fancy makes us insomniacs in the halls of habit, offers to rescue the life of things from the dead It is neither a coherently organized memoir nor a solid book of criticism, but it is very enjoyable What can I say I m a sucker for James Wood because I already hold most of his opinions about fiction.