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Bellezza e fragilità

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  131 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Daniel Mendelsohn, l’autore de Gli scomparsi, la grande storia di una famiglia ebrea annientata durante l’Olocausto, è un elegante classicista e uno dei critici più temuti e rispettati d’America. In questa nuova opera intraprende una brillante ricognizione dei registi e degli scrittori che influenzano la nostra vita e il nostro mondo, libri e film di grande successo che en ...more
Paperback, Bloom, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Neri Pozza (first published 2008)
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Terence
Sep 11, 2009 Terence rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: NYRB review
Brilliant!

OK, so why put this on your "must read" list? To start, Mendelsohn is a brilliant critic who writes insightfully and without condescension to author, work or audience (reader, movie-goer, etc.). Even when he utterly demolishes his subject, he never descends to snark or gratuitous sniping. Many times, I got the sense of a man exasperated with how close these artists get to creating something of real meaning/value but keep missing the target.

In his introduction, Mendelsohn explains the c
...more
Shannon
Dec 09, 2009 Shannon marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
So far this is awesome. I picked it out b/c the title and cover are awesome. The first essay is about The Lovely Bones and I knew how severely he trashed the book would indicate my ability to read the rest of the book. He pretty severely trashed it, I'd say. Pointing out, (accurately, I think) that the book is NOT really about "hard issues" like rape or murder, but about being happy and overcoming grief. Essentially.. sugar coating grief. Which, sas he points out, is useless because people DO gr ...more
Heather
Well, this isn't a literary novel, but it includes REVIEWS of a number of literary novels, together with films and theater performances (and even an opera!) Most appeared in the NY Review of Books. I really enjoy Mendelsohn's writing - he is incredibly erudite but wears it lightly. He writes in a dry, conversational tone which is ironic without being snarky. He has a wonderful ability to be critical (sometimes deeply, fiercely critical) in a respectful way -- to take issue with some fundamental ...more
John
This is definitely not a quick read; it went slowly for me both in the sense that I had to read each page relatively slowly, and in the sense that I could not read it all in one go, but had to break it up periodically. The reason that it is slow, though, is because of how much Mendelsohn has to say, and how many things he has to say it about, and how much work the reader has to do to keep up with him. There are a lot of ideas in this book, and few of them are simple; the arguments he makes are c ...more
Sean
Mendelsohn is enjoyable to read because of the skill with which he interweaves his knowledge of classical history and drama with social commentary, while critiquing a particular film, literary work, or theatrical performance. His social commentary in particular adds an element of depth and insight to his work, which seems uncommon amongst most critics and reviewers.

Mendelsohn’s essay,Novel of the Year, is one of the best examples of his ability to methodically expose the sentimentality of a work
...more
Chris
In light of Goodreads recent policy shift I would like to point out what is said in the essay “Nailed” – “. . the best literary criticism has often been a form of sadistic entertainment” (161)..

This book is criticism. At times, it meant be seem mean. At times, you might disagree with it. Guess what? That happens. Get over it. The criticism really should be how well the idea –the thesis of the criticism – is supported.
Here, each In and every one is wonderfully supported.
Of course, I could jus
...more
Colin
Reading Mendelsohn's collected essays is like having a conversation with a friend who is way more brilliant than you, but who would never ever make you feel bad about it. On the face of things, Mendelsohn's concern seems to be the classics--even when writing about contemporary novels or film, ancient Greece tends to poke its head in--but in reality, he's much more interested in humanity's defining characteristics: tragedy, heroism, identity, war (it helps that the Greeks wrote about these things ...more
Noah
The true measure of a critic is the extent to which the reader will follow him or her into subjects for which the reader has little intrinsic interest. For me, Mendelsohn is just such a critic because he always takes a narrow subject and broadens his critique to include aspects of the larger culture.
Malinda
Mendelsohn extensively draws on his background in the Classics to illuminate how various novels, plays, and movies work (or don't). His critique of John Boswell's Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe is especially powerful (lesson for readers: always examine those footnotes!).
Michael
I've read a lot of reviews by this point in my life. It's a constrained art, honestly more of a craft. Without stepping outside it, Mendelsohn elevates it. He's our best critic/reviewer.
Chris
Great writer, but he's so whiny. A collection of a critic who likes NOTHING.
Blackbook
Thought provoking. Smart. How can I write a review of a book on reviewing?
Kate
Collection of essays by one of my favorite cultural critics of the moment. I gave it a four, but the truth is, it oscillates between a 3 and a 5. When it's good, it's nothing short of a testament to why criticism is essential to culture. When it's not great, it's worthwhile but not mind expanding. Topics of essays include: Almodovar, Oscar Wilde, Brokeback Mountain, the movie Troy, Stoppard. If you don't want to read the whole book, but you're interested in EITHER movies OR marketing OR what it ...more
Cameron
When Daniel Mendelsohn was 13 years old, he read two Mary Renault novels about Alexander the Great, Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy, and with that became enthralled with the ancient world. “I became a classicist because of Alexander the Great…the romantic blend of the youthful hero, that Odyssean yearning, strange rites, and panoramic moments – all spiced with a dash of polymorphous perversity which all the characters seemed to take in stride – were too alluring to resist. From that moment ...more
Qi
As a culture and art critic, the author spans this book of essays into several categories: heroines (such as various women in the movie "The Hours"), the heroics (such as movies "300" and "Troy"), closets (Oscar Wilde, Angels in America), Theater (The Producers), and lastly, war (Medea, etc). I did not read all the essays as I am not yet familiar with some of the subject matters, and would rather come to the essays when I have more than a casual acquaintances (as I know how influential a critic ...more
Paula
At some point in high school (possibly multiple points), you were undoubtedly forced to read an ancient Greek play (though hopefully not in ancient Greek). And most likely, you were bored out of your mind and wondered why you reading these plays when they had nothing to do with your life.

Wrong! Although most likely not your fault. If my teachers had explained "Medea" or "Antigone" with even half the brilliance of Mendelsohn, English classes would have been a vastly different experience. A classi
...more
Mythili
Daniel Mendelsohn observes in this collection's intro that as a critic, "however random the assignments you accept, you always end up writing your own intellectual autobiography." That's one of the reasons why this volume is so interesting -- reading his careful reviews of everything from The Lovely Bones to Oliver Stone's Alexander to a Broadway staging of The Glass Menagerie starring Jessica Lange and Christian Slater, Mendelsohn's particular proclivities and preoccupations gradually emerge. H ...more
Ivan
Mendelsohn is a culture critic for The New York Review of Books and in this volume collects thirty essays on film, books, and theatre that deal mostly with gay themes. If you prefer well considered analysis over acerbic quips and bitchy bon mots, you’ll revel in portraits of Wilde, Williams, Coward, Capote, Almodovar and Dale Peck, as well as opinions on Angels in America, The Master, Brokeback Mountain, The Hours, Middlesex, The Invention of Love, Troy and Alexander. Reading these pieces is the ...more
Cody
if you get a kick out of his book reviews you'd enjoy reading a lot of his book reviews in one place, in addition to stuff you would not really care about like stuff about broadway / "The Classics". i dont really care or am super interested in caring about aeschylus and all the other old dead dudes (didnt take latin in hs because i'm not a dweeb) so it can be a little tiring to constantly read every work through that lens but overall - a whole book of sunday morning reading, some mild smackdowns ...more
bookish
This is one of the best (if not *the* best) collections of critical essays I have ever read. Even if you don't read the entire book - which you should - the first and last essays on Alice Sebold's "Lovely Bones" and the Sept.11th movies "United 93" and "World Trade Center" are a must-read for anyone remotely interested in what a proper critical analysis of a cultural phenomenon reads like. It'll leave you in awe. Highly recommended.
SA
This book of Mendelsohn's collected essays took forever to get through, but god, his writing and perspective (even when I disagreed with his points) was just wonderful. Mendelsohn's classics background was just candy for me constantly throughout the book, and the diversity of his subject matter was a treat. I want to read everything he's ever done, but that would be like a year of reading in and of itself.
Elalma
Un'analisi davvero interessante e particolareggiata su film e libri che in qualche modo hanno lasciato un segno negli ultimi anni, per lo meno negli Stati Uniti. Pieno di riferimenti, e di citazioni, ha l'enorme pregio di essere riuscito a spiegarmi perch� un film non mi era piaciuto nonostante il grande successo di critica e pubblico o di far notare aspetti importanti di un libro che erano sfuggiti.
Joe

Selection of reviews by Daniel Mendelsohn, mainly from the New York Review of Books, each viewed from the perspective of a classicist. The critique of Brokeback Mountain made me weep--it so eloquently corrected the misreadings of the film, even those of its makers, publicists, and admirers. A beautiful book, far above the usual collection of film/book/theater/culture reviews.
Mary Beth
Showcasing elegant and persuasive reasoning, beautiful turns of phrase, and a deep understanding of the subjects, this passionately argued essay collection belies the nasty myth than an intellectual reading must be a cold one. Mendelsohn is provocative in the best sense: not rude or cruel but thought-provoking, challenging his reader to try on new perspectives.
Sharon
Bought this essay collection on a whim at an essay conference, so do glad I did. Each essay is about so much more than its subject of review, as the author brings the discipline and aesthetics of classical scholarship to modern books, movies, and theater - history, life, love, sorrow, all of human nature. A truly fine collection of criticism as art in itself!
Karen
OK, so I'm only on page 40 but already I know I love this book and I'll probably end up purchasing a personal copy. (I'm currently reading my library's copy.) It's a collection of essays that originally appeared in the New York Review of Books, and it's having the effect of making me want to experience each of the works -- books, film, theater -- discussed.
Stephen
This guy brings an astonishingly broad and deep background to an examination of current issues from Almodovar to the novel Middlesex, from Brokeback Mountain to Pinter, gender issues, theater reviews -- on and on. Mostly eassys from the New York Review of Books. It's refreshing to read something so in depth and informed -- even when I disagree with him.
Leigh
A collection of essays, mostly from The New Yorker and the NYRB. mainly about movies and plays, but also with an astounding knowledge of the classics and philosophy informing his criticism. Smart. Funny. Highly enjoyable.
Kev
I can't WAIT to read this. Many of the NYT Book Reviews reprinted in this book I have electronic personal copies on my harddrive. I'm so curious to see which ones are in this book.
Vivencio
as criticisms go, you can't get more learned, passionate and witty than these collection of reviews.
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“An epic without a focus - without a single action, a coherent plot, a single terrible point to make - was just a very long poem.” 2 likes
“For (strange as it may sound to many people, who tend to think of critics as being motivated by the lower emotions: envy, disdain, contempt even) critics are, above all, people who are in love with beautiful things, and who worry that those things will get broken. What motivates so many of us to write in the first place is, to begin with, a great passion for a subject (Tennessee Williams, Balanchine, jazz, the twentieth-century novel, whatever) that we find beautiful; and, then, a kind of corresponding anxiety about the fragility of that beauty.” 1 likes
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