For nearly fifty years, Vivian Gornick's essays, written with her characteristic clarity of perception and vibrant prose, have explored feminism and writing, literature and culture, politics and personal experience. Drawing writing from the course of her career, All That is Given illuminates one of the driving themes behind Gornick's work: that the painful process of understanding one's self is what binds us to the larger world.
In these essays, Gornick explores the lives and literature of Alfred Kazin, Mary McCarthy, Diana Trilling, Philip Roth, Joan Didion, and Herman Melville; the cultural impact of Silent Spring and Uncle Tom's Cabin; and the characters you might only find in a New York barber shop or midtown bus terminal. Even more, All That Is Given brings back into print her incendiary essays, first published in the Village Voice, championing the emergence of the women's liberation movement of the 1970s.
Alternately crackling with urgency or lucid with insight, the essays in All That Is Given demonstrate one of America's most beloved critics at her best.
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Praise for The Romance of American Communism "Gornick's language is so fresh and so blunt; it's a quintessentially American voice, and a beautiful one." - Dwight Garner, New York Times
"When first published in the 1970s, Vivian Gornick's book helped to launch her distinguished career as a writer and humanized, explained and, yes, romanticized, a generation of American radicals ... Thanks to the dysfunctionality of American capitalism, socialism has reentered the American political vocabulary. Gornick introduces us to a slice of history we need to know." - Eric Foner, author of Battles for Freedom
"A profound guide to the ecstasy and despair of living a life structured by political commitment." - Sarah Leonard
"[Gornick] presents her interview subjects like characters in literature, as the protagonists of their own experience, and, for that reason, the book is not simply documentary but a work of literature, too, rich, moving, and contradictory." - Alexandra Schwartz, New Yorker
"Most brilliantly evoked, however, is the exhilaration of conversion and the soul-expanding experience of finding a cause." - Guardian
"First published in 1977, Gornick's book feels as relevant now as it ever did. As new secular movements, from reactionary atavism to progressive social justice activism, capture our imaginations and provide us with a feeling of belonging, The Romance of American Communism, provides a valuable glimpse into just how vital these movements can be - and how potent they are at creating community." - Tara Isabella Burton, Washington Examiner
"Gornick's task in Romance was clear. She wanted to rekindle [the] flame not for warmth but for illumination, to retrieve the truth of the communist experience, as it was lived from the inside, from the highbrow obscurantism of Cold War liberalism." - Corey Robin, The Nation
"Gornick offers no blueprints, but she teaches us that we must address the slippery ingredient of the emotions of a committed political life by first recognizing and naming them. Besides being wonderful, The Romance of American Communism is also a bit strange because it is so seductive." - Alan Wald, Boston Review
"A passionate, unwieldy auto-ethnographic work that zoomed out from her own upbringing to encompass the everyday life of the Communist Party in the United States." - Ari Brostoff, n+1
"Vivian Gornick is more than a formidable intelligence, she's an entire sensibility. The essays collected here show how a mind shapes and becomes itself in engagement with the writers, thinkers, social facts and theories of her many days. The voice, at once her own and the expression of an entire culture-New York, working class, feminist, Jewish, both open-minded and skeptical-is a gift to be handed down from one generation to the next. You're holding that voice in your hands." - Marco Roth, author of The Scientists
"[Taking a Long Look] is illuminating and a welcome addition to the astute critic's oeuvre." - Publishers Weekly
"Vivian Gornick is more than a formidable intelligence, she's an entire sensibility. The essays collected here show how a mind shapes and becomes itself in engagement with the writers, thinkers, social facts and theories of her many days. The voice, at once her own and the expression of an entire culture-New York, working class, feminist, Jewish, both open-minded and skeptical-is a gift to be handed down from one generation to the next." - Marco Roth, author of The Scientists
"The lasting value of her work lies in her commitment to the question of what it means to feel "expressive": to experience the feeling that tells a person "not approximately, but precisely" who they are." - Dayna Tortorici, The New York Review of Books
"Vivian Gornick is one of the most important essayists of all time. Whether writing on the self, feminism, isolation or politics, she is urgent, sharp-eyed and vital. A superb collection." - Sinead Gleeson, author of Constellations