Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers cover

Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers

A deeply considered and provocative new look at major American writers—including Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, and W.H. Auden—Edward Mendelson’s Moral Agents is also a work of critical biography in the great tradition of Plutarch, Samuel Johnson, and Emerson. Any important writer, in Mendelson’s view, writes in response to an idea of the good life that is inseparable from the life the writer lives.

Fusing biography and criticism and based on extensive new research, Moral Agents presents challenging new portraits of eight writers—novelists, critics, and poets—who transformed American literature in the turbulent twentieth century. Eight sharply distinctive individuals—inspired, troubled, hugely ambitious—who reimagined what it means to be a writer.

There’s Saul Bellow, a novelist determined to ...

More »

Featured Titles

Go Figure! New Perspectives on Guston

edited and with an introduction by Peter Benson Miller, preface by Robert Storr
Go Figure!, a lavishly illustrated volume of essays about Philip Guston (1913-1980), considers the late work of Guston who was a friend and contemporary of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. This volume illustrates the enduring power of his work, particularly the fireworks generated by expressive contradictions embodied in his last paintings.

More »

A Legacy

An unforgettable tale, set in Germany before the First World War, of two very different families—one Jewish, from Berlin’s upper bourgeoisie, the other landed Catholic aristocracy—whose fortunes will be strangely, and sometimes fatally, entwined. “One of the very best novels I have ever read.” —Nancy Mitford

More »

The Door

Magda Szabó, introduction by Ali Smith, a new translation from the Hungarian by Len Rix
In a prizewinning translation by Len Rix, Magda Szabó’s unsettling and beautiful novel about friendship and tragedy marks Szabó as a major modern European author and formidable writer of female characters. “Clever, moving, frightening, [The Door] deserves to be a bestseller.” —The Telegraph

More »

Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Stories

Silvina Ocampo, introduction by Helen Oyeyemi, a new translation from the Spanish by Daniel Balderston, preface by Jorge Luis Borges
Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, Ocampo’s stories stand alongside those of her collaborators and countrymen Borges, Cortázar, and Bioy Casares. “Few writers have an eye for the small horrors of everyday life; fewer still see the everyday marvelous. Other than Ocampo, I cannot think of a single writer who … has chronicled both with such wise and elegant humor.” —Alberto Manguel

More »

Announcements

NYRB at ALA Chicago

New York Review Books and The New York Review of Books will be at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Chicago this Friday, January 30th, through Monday, February 2nd.

More »