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Musings on Mortality: From Tolstoy to Primo Levi (Paperback)
  • Musings on Mortality: From Tolstoy to Primo Levi (Paperback)
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Musings on Mortality: From Tolstoy to Primo Levi (Paperback)

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£11.50
Paperback 200 Pages / Published: 20/11/2015
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\u201cAll art and the love of art,\u201d Victor Brombert writes at the beginning of the deeply personal Musings on Mortality, \u201callow us to negate our nothingness.\u201d As a young man returning from World War II, Brombert came to understand this truth as he immersed himself in literature. Death can be found everywhere in literature, he saw, but literature itself is on the side of life. With delicacy and penetrating insight, Brombert traces the theme of mortality in the work of a group of authors who wrote during the past century and a half, teasing out and comparing their views of death as they emerged from vastly different cultural contexts. Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Albert Camus, Giorgio Bassani, J. M. Coetzee, and Primo Levi-these are the writers whose works Brombert plumbs, illuminating their views on the meaning of life and the human condition. But there is more to their work, he shows, than a pervasive interest in mortality: they wrote not only of physical death but also of the threat of moral and spiritual death-and as the twentieth century progressed, they increasingly reflected on the traumatic events of their times and the growing sense of a collective historical tragedy. He probes the individual struggle with death, for example, through Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych and Mann's Aschenbach, while he explores the destruction of whole civilizations in Bassani, Camus, and Primo Levi. For Kafka and Woolf, writing seems to hold the promise of salvation, though that promise is seen as ambiguous and even deceptive, while Coetzee, writing about violence and apartheid South Africa, is deeply concerned with a sense of disgrace. Throughout the book, Brombert roots these writers' reflections in philosophical meditations on mortality. Ultimately, he reveals that by understanding how these authors wrote about mortality, we can grasp the full scope of their literary achievement and vision. Drawing deeply from the well of Brombert's own experience, Musings on Mortality is more than mere literary criticism: it is a moving and elegant book for all to learn and live by.

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226323824
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 272 g
Dimensions: 213 x 140 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
""Musings on Mortality" is an invitation to learn gladly from a deeply cultured man who would gladly teach. [Brombert's] lesson, to use his own words about Primo Levi, is a 'lesson in human dignity.' And among the dignities of man, as Victor Brombert convincingly demonstrates, is the serious discussion of serious literature, which treats it as having something wroth saying to those who would only listen."
--D. G. Myers "A Commonplace Blog "
"Musings on Mortality" is an invitation to learn gladly from a deeply cultured man who would gladly teach. [Brombert s] lesson, to use his own words about Primo Levi, is a lesson in human dignity. And among the dignities of man, as Victor Brombert convincingly demonstrates, is the serious discussion of serious literature, which treats it as having something wroth saying to those who would only listen.
--D. G. Myers "A Commonplace Blog ""
Musings on Mortality is a book suffused with wisdom and argued with the strong hand of a weathered and feeling literary scholar. To treat such tragic and inconsolable subject matter with such clarity and respect, with such equanimity and understanding, is to levitate above it, in stoic courage and willed serenity. It is hard to imagine such thematic criticism being done better than here. What a beautiful book. --Thomas Harrison, author of 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance"
Musings on Mortality is an invitation to learn gladly from a deeply cultured man who would gladly teach. [Brombert s] lesson, to use his own words about Primo Levi, is a lesson in human dignity. And among the dignities of man, as Victor Brombert convincingly demonstrates, is the serious discussion of serious literature, which treats it as having something wroth saying to those who would only listen.
--D. G. Myers "A Commonplace Blog ""
This handsome, compact book is, in fact, a work of elegant, beautifully written literary criticism, examining how eight major writers From Tolstoy to Primo Levi dealt with death in their fiction. It offers the highly distilled insights of a master teacher.
--Michael Dirda "Wall Street Journal ""
In these essays, Brombert reads these writers oeuvres closely with a judicious and restrained eye towards biographical influence and sets them within their larger historical contexts.
An engagingly personal book.
Much more than mere musings on mortality. --Tess Lewis "The Hudson Review ""
"Musings on Mortality is a book suffused with wisdom and argued with the strong hand of a weathered and feeling literary scholar. To treat such tragic and inconsolable subject matter with such clarity and respect, with such equanimity and understanding, is to levitate above it, in stoic courage and willed serenity. It is hard to imagine such thematic criticism being done better than here. What a beautiful book."--Thomas Harrison, author of 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance
"Musings on Mortality is an invitation to learn gladly from a deeply cultured man who would gladly teach. [Brombert's] lesson, to use his own words about Primo Levi, is a 'lesson in human dignity.' And among the dignities of man, as Victor Brombert convincingly demonstrates, is the serious discussion of serious literature, which treats it as having something wroth saying to those who would only listen."
--D. G. Myers "A Commonplace Blog "
"This handsome, compact book is, in fact, a work of elegant, beautifully written literary criticism, examining how eight major writers--'From Tolstoy to Primo Levi'--dealt with death in their fiction. It offers the highly distilled insights of a master teacher."
--Michael Dirda "Wall Street Journal "
"In these essays, Brombert reads these writers' oeuvres closely with a judicious and restrained eye towards biographical influence and sets them within their larger historical contexts."

"An engagingly personal book."

"Much more than mere 'musings on mortality.'"--Tess Lewis "The Hudson Review "

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