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A Temple of Texts

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
From one of the most admired essayists and novelists at work today: a new collection of essays—his first since Tests of Time, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

These twenty-five essays speak to the nature and value of writing and to the books that result from a deep commitment to the word. Here is Gass on Rilke and Gertrude Stein; on friends s
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Knopf
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MJ Nicholls
If you care passionately about literature, especially literature published by Dalkey Archive, these essays will yield Aeolian harps of amazement, banjos of bliss, castanets of cheeriness, didgeridoos of delight, euphoniums of ecstasy, fiddles of fortune, guzhengs of giddiness, harmonicas of happiness, igils of idolatry, jew’s harps of joyousness, kazoos of kittenishness, lyres of lovespurts, mandocellos of magnificence, nose flutes of niceness, oboes of oooohess, piccolos of pleasure, quinticla ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Hadrian rated it it was amazing
Ol' Gass is one of the more cantankerous writers of American fiction, yet this book is sweet with the smell of praise and adoration for books. This isn't a set of essays, it's a hymn of ecstasy.

Gass has an idiosyncratic set of tastes in this book - his pantheon of classics includes the old masters like Plato, Thucydides, but also the recent avant-garde like Gaddis, Stein, Hawkes, Coover, Flann O'Brien. At times, he is even effusive in his praise - three essays on Rainer Maria Rilke alone - but
" of art are my objects of worship, and that some of these objects are idols at best—rich, wondrous, and made of gold—yet only idols; while others are secondary saints and demons, whose malicious intent is largely playful; while still others are rather sacred, like hunks of the true cross or biblical texts, and a few are dizzying revelations."

If there is love at first sight, then; this is love at first reading!
A temple of texts indeed! Here are thoughts so sublime, they become sacred. Fo
Jul 20, 2013 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Every time I open another book by William Gass, be the book one of his dazzling novels or one filled with the richness of his literary essays, I hold my breath, as I do when watching one of The Flying Wallendas, fearful that this time, despite his magnificent past performances, he will trip and fall, that he will fail on this occasion to weave his linguistic magic, that the wisdom of his insights will have weakened or been tarnished. I need have had no fear about this present collection – it is ...more
Justin Evans
Jun 13, 2013 Justin Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
My first experience of Gass was his introduction to Gaddis' The Recognitions, back when I just liked buying and reading immensely long books which were proclaimed under-rated masterpieces or had been discussed in David Foster Wallace's essay on pomo fiction (I can't remember which camp Gaddis fell into). I was charmed, and found a copy of Omensetter's Luck. I can remember literally nothing about it. The Recognitions is my favorite novel. I decided to give Gass another chance.

And for the first q
Feb 27, 2015 Sunny rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Quite an interesting book about other books and various events and just thoughts really. Looks at Gass’s opinion on 1001 nights, his 50 favourite books, Robert burton, Irish authors (flann Obrien), Gertrude stein (yawn), elias canetti, GG marquez, the sentence rodin, sacred text and evil. Interesting read overall with some good random insights in places on random things.
Sep 20, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
wonderful book of essays about books and literature, but also touches on history, politics, theater, wars, love, hatred, death and more. my Favorite was about William Gaddis "And His Goddamn Books" and also about Robert Coover and also about Stanley Elkin, and Sevevo and Flann O'brien and two connected essays about Rilke. just wonderful, reading this is like taking a pill that makes you forget some of the irritations of recent times like the destruction of public libraries and CIA hit squads.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jul 20, 2016 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as to-read
Gass' Fifty Literary Pillars. Thanks for compiling this, Jimmy.
Aug 24, 2008 Babette marked it as to-read
This review was posted on Amazon...

No one is better than William H. Gass at communicating the sublime and rapturous excitement of reading. This essayist, novelist and teacher is now in his eighties, and yet he still approaches books as if he were a young man hurrying to a rendezvous with a gorgeous older woman. When Gass describes the diction of Robert Burton or Gertrude Stein, the sentences of John Hawkes or Robert Coover, he shifts constantly between reverent awe and visceral eagerness, betwee
This book, by the estimable critic and novelist William Gass, is a worthy companion to its author’s several prize-winning essay collections (such as The World Within the Word and Tests of Time). The introductory essay is almost perfect as Gass sings the praises of multiplicity, contradiction and polyphony in literature, urging readers to become, above all else, omnivorous (“The healthy mind goes everywhere”). “Influence” rambles engagingly about the title phenomenon’s central relationship to ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

It's unfortunate that the term critic often connotes negativity and sniping. What novelist and professor of philosophy William Gass practices in his critical essays is more in the line of learned appreciation or ecstatic advocacy. Though many of these pieces first appeared in other books as forwards, afterwards, and introductions, reviewers feel that A Temple of Texts may be his most cohesive collection yet. Gass's allusions and elaborate metaphors don't make for skimming. But for these willing

Apr 20, 2015 Lawrence rated it it was amazing
I did not read every one of these essays, but I loved the ones I did read. These were the essays on more general topics - on the young man reading the classics, on the nature of the sentence, on evil.

The marvel of good essay writing is their language and style, their meandering and diction, their side trips. They make me scratch my head and say I didn't understand a word and, yet, I loved the reading of them. They also have the marks of erudition and, often, erudition on display, but without any
Justin Covey
Dec 06, 2015 Justin Covey rated it really liked it
Gass has an unfortunate habit of assuming the reader's knowledge is equally expansive and eclectic as his own. This leads to a number of baffling essays, though his gift with language is so extraordinary that even these were a delight to read even as I failed to understood them. That being said, a few of these essays, particularly when he focuses on singing the praises of literature at large such as in Sacred Texts or the titular Temple of Texts, are so strong they easily make the whole book ...more
Apr 13, 2012 Jm_oriol rated it really liked it
Una colección de ensayos, que no sólo abarca libros y literatura, sino la sociedad, la cultura, la religión, incluso el mal.

Como es natural, cada uno tendrá sus favoritos y sus gustos, a mi especialmente me han gustado, los referentes a las Mil y una noches, Erasmo, Rabelais, O'Brien, Sabato, Caneti y García Márquez. También En defensa del Libro y Textos Sagrados.

Lo más importante es que te entran unas ganas irrefrenables de leer todos los libros que comenta.
Mar 19, 2008 Tony rated it did not like it
I found it odd that I disliked whtat are perhaps Gass's most-straightforward writings. I've always admired his command of language but felt he fell short in terms of developing a narrative. In these essays, he does so for the most part and loses his svengali-like control of the English language.
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Feb 06, 2009
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William Howard Gass (born July 30, 1924) is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, and former philosophy professor.

Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Warren, Ohio, where he attended local schools. He has described his childhood as an unhappy one, with an abusive, racist father and a passive, alcoholic mother; critics would later cit
More about William H. Gass...

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“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.” 1916 likes
“Yes, we call it recursive, the act of reading, of looping the loop, of continually returning to an earlier group of words, behaving like Penelope by moving our mind back and forth, forth and back, reweaving what’s unwoven, undoing what’s been done; and language, which regularly returns us to its origin, which starts us off again on the same journey, older, altered, Columbus one more time, but better prepared each later voyage, knowing a bit more, ready for more, equal to a greater range of tasks, calmer, confident—after all, we’ve come this way before, have habits that help, and a favoring wind—language like that is the language which takes us inside, inside the sentence—inside—inside the mind—inside—inside, where meanings meet and are modified, reviewed and revised, where no perception, no need, no feeling or thought need be scanted or shunted aside.” 10 likes
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