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A Jacques Barzun Reader

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  105 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Throughout his career Jacques Barzun, author of the New York Times bestseller and National Book Award Finalist From Dawn to Decadence, has always been known as a witty and graceful essayist, one who combines a depth of knowledge and a rare facility with words.

Now Michael Murray has carefully selected eighty of Barzun's most inventive, accomplished, and insightful essays, a
Paperback, 640 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published December 24th 2001)
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Dec 27, 2015 Trish rated it really liked it
Shelves: skimmed, essays
A friend told me he was influenced by the thinking/writing of Jacques Barzun. Locally I could only find his books on criticism and language. I liked this one.

In his essay on "Criticism: An Art or a Craft?" he writes
"Criticism, however lofty, profound, subtle, and divinatory, remains exposition and analysis; it is referential and argumentative; it is not original, creative, independent of a text or a theory...We need it; at times we need it badly; but its loss would not mean the end of art...Gre
Andrew Schirmer
Oct 31, 2012 Andrew Schirmer rated it it was amazing
This book is the perfect introduction to Jacques Barzun's art. Wonderful, lucid criticism on seemingly everything Western civ has to offer: from Varese to baseball to crime fiction. Especially close to my heart is the essay "French and its Vagaries". It manages to be the best and most concise explication of French for English speakers. I cannot resist quoting one paragraph in full:

This self-misrepresentation of the French vocabulary is compounded by another characteristic: French is not double l
Apr 08, 2015 Qi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-books
Barzun is more Victorian and Old European in style and contents. His essays make rich dipping when one is fatigued by the cheap, flashy, and easy. Frequent visit of specific segments have the bracing effect of a tonic on one's mind. This is because there is rarely a sentence that is constructed to merely entertain the reader, or slipped in in writerly fancy. Barzun does not truck with the chatty nor pandering. His work rewards us with the austere beauty from a superior intellect.

Readers are adv
Abimelech Abimelech
May 22, 2013 Abimelech Abimelech rated it liked it
it was pretty fuck good 60% of the time and like kind of like head against glass table top dull at others like 40% of the time, but my statistical research is ongoing # now. thus this spliced numerical is concreted by zero means. i bought this book at a garage sale in the house of a woman who had just died. they call this an 'estate sale.' i bought her library for 40 bucks and change, quarter a pop. more estate sales. i liked what barzun had to say about oscar wilde. would probably not read anyt ...more
Apr 05, 2016 Annabelle rated it really liked it
It took me a while to finish this highly intellectual bunch of random essays on topics ranging from the demise of education and French trivia as only a brilliant man can write it. Suffice to say that I of course did not get much of it. This is the kind of reading that makes you realize how much you DO NOT REALLY KNOW. That last statement however, does not mean I did not learn anything. AU CONTRAIRE! I will treasure this book and whoever it was who persuaded me to get it (for I honestly cannot re ...more
M. Ritchey
Dec 14, 2009 M. Ritchey rated it it was amazing
Another lovable frenchman is the 102 year old currently-still-living Jacques Barzun. The epitome of a public intellectual, he has thoughts on everything from race in America to baseball to the educational system to Darwin to Romantic music. He is so cool. He is charming and urbane without ever being snobby. He loves life and art and all people. Wonderful way to think about the world--go with him on some journeys! Plus, these are short essays so you can just read around what interests you.
Chris Cangiano
A fascinating and varied selection of writing from the brilliant cultural historian Jacques Barzun spanning much of the 20th Century and touching on many and varied subjects (from literary criticism to a paean to baseball). Barzun wrote beautifully and with both great insight and much wit. Highly recommended both in its own right and as follow on to his magisterial From Dawn to Decadence.
Jan 09, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it
An incredibly diverse selection of essays written over an enormous timeframe, frequently looping back to Barzun's favorite era, the Romantic. Still, he manages discussions from Baseball to the crime story to th e details of running a University. It seems unlikely that any one person could maintain an equal interest in all these topics, but a strong collection overall.
Real Supergirl
Jul 17, 2007 Real Supergirl rated it really liked it
Barzun is very academic, but when he turns his academic analysis to the subject of baseball, it's just funny. And awesome. In a weird, dorky sort of way.

I'm reading around in this one. They're mostly short essays. Most of them are pretty good.
Douglas Ross
Feb 27, 2014 Douglas Ross rated it it was amazing
Nicely done collection of Barzun's essays.
Leonard Pierce
May 16, 2008 Leonard Pierce rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-theory
Barzun isn't one of my favorite theorists/critics, but he's a very important one, and for a reason. This is a fine introduction to see if you want to find out more.
Oct 15, 2007 Ivan rated it liked it
Bagus. Itu saja...
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Jacques Martin Barzun was a French-born American historian of ideas and culture.
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