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Essays on music, art, pop culture, literature, and politics by the renowned essayist and observer of contemporary life, now collected together for the first time.
The Uncollected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick is a companion collection to The Collected Essays, a book that proved a revelation of what, for many, had been an open secret: that Elizabeth Hardwick was one of the great American literary critics, and an extraordinary stylist in her own right. The thirty-five pieces that Alex Andriesse has gathered here—none previously featured in volumes of Hardwick’s work—make it clear that her powers extended far beyond literary criticism, encompassing a vast range of subjects, from New York City to Faye Dunaway, from Wagner’s Parsifal to Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, and from the pleasures of summertime to grits soufflé. In these often surprising, always well-wrought essays, we see Hardwick’s passion for people and places, her politics, her thoughts on feminism, and her ability, especially from the 1970s on, to write well about seemingly anything.
About the Author
Elizabeth Hardwick (1916-2007) was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and educated at the University of Kentucky and Columbia University. A recipient of a Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is the author of three novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays. She was a co-founder and advisory editor of The New York Review of Books and contributed more than one hundred reviews, articles, reflections, and letters to the magazine. NYRB Classics publishes Sleepless Nights, a novel; Seduction and Betrayal, a study of women in literature; and The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick.
Alex Andriesse was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1985. His stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Granta, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Prodigal, and Literary Imagination. He has translated several works from Italian and French, including Roberto Bazlen’s Notes Without a Text and Other Writings and François-René de Chateaubriand’s Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, 1768–1800 (an NYRB Classic). He lives in the Netherlands.
“As always, Hardwick is elegant, sharp-witted, eccentric, exacting, dreamy. . . . Her prose has an entrancing power of description, a formidable prettiness combined with razor precision.” —Katie Roiphe, The New York Times Book Review
“I cannot see The Hardwick Sentence as anything but a spiritual leap toward fuller expression. . . . When she got it right, there was a care and moral weight to her prose that few could even abut.” —Sasha Frere-Jones, 4Columns
“[Hardwick’s] stylish, gutting one-liners are present. . . . I was struck by the prescience of the collection’s strongest inclusions.” —Erin Schwartz, Vulture
“Another compendium of greatness. . . . Of the great stylists with whom she is often grouped like Sontag, Janet Malcolm, Joan Didion, Cynthia Ozick, Renata Adler—all of them women alive at midcentury, who lived in New York, and published both essays and fiction, or something in between—none is more strange than Hardwick.” —Zachary Fine, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Andriesse’s collection of 35 previously uncollected essays . . . is well timed. In the first piece, Hardwick writes that a ‘collection of essays is a collection of variations,’ and these pieces showcase her own range of interests. . . . This judicious gathering is a fine place to sample Hardwick’s work.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The clever observations of critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick shine in this sharp collection. The essays range from lyrical musings on places Hardwick lived—Kentucky, Maine, and New York—to insights on literature and thoughts on celebrities. . . . This is a rousing testament to Hardwick’s enduring vision.” —Publishers Weekly
“Elizabeth Hardwick once said that she became a writer because she loved to read. For her, language was experience, and in her essays she gave her all, no matter the occasion. She had heartbreaking discipline, an open, skeptical mind, and an unfailing beauty of voice.” —Darryl Pinckney
“Hardwick wrote when she had something to say, and she took her time; the impression of ease is owing strictly to her style. Not a poet, she produced a poet’s prose.” —Linda Hall