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Rocket and Lightship: Essays on Literature and Ideas

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Adam Kirsch has been described as "elegant and astute…[a] critic of the very first order" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). In these brilliant, wide-ranging essays, published over the last eight years in the New Republic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, Kirsch shows how literature can illuminate questions of meaning, ethics, and politics, and how those questions shape the ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 17th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company
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James Murphy
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Adam Kirsch is a learned man. He writes of ideas, but, I think, as they're displayed in literature. Darwin is considered here as a writer. History is considered through the lens of what Francis Fukuyama writes about it. In one remarkable essay he compares Michel Houellebecq, W. G. Sebald, and Ian McEwan. Later he examines whether or not we should still think of World War II as the "good war" following the ways recent histories of the air campaigns and the revealed similarities of Nazi and Soviet ...more
Jonathan Maas
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like a series of lectures from a professor in a class just above your skill level, and therein lies its power

I arrived at this book to find Kirsch's analysis of Peter Sloterdijk, and got that, as well as a little more than I bargained for.

Kirsch reads the difficult books, and brings them to you, the reader. But this isn't Roxane Gay so eloquently explaining Judith Butler to laypeople like myself. He writes like you're a grad student, and an incisive one at that.

And like a good professor, he not
Jee Koh
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Adam Kirsch discusses both ideas and literature in this enjoyable collection of essays. The first two essays examine the life of Charles Darwin and his legacy on the study of the arts, in particular, literature. The next two essays are on the end of history, seen in very different ways by Francis Fukuyama and a trio of European novelists, Houellebecq, Sebald and McEwan. Kirsch explains in an essay Hannah Arendt's antipathy toward the Jewish community. In the case of Walter Benjamin, he highlight ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked this book up at random; it was a pleasant surprise. The literary criticism here includes both fiction and nonfiction, I feel like I will go back and try out some of the authors mentioned. Go ahead and read this if you like books about books.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection calls for repeat leaps as the reader discovers the essay's writers. The title essay gives reasons to write... and to read. ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent group of essays, Makes you think. Gave me an entire foot lengths worth of other reading to do. A worthy read. I learned a lot about Literature.
Bryan Szabo
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Starts much stronger than he finishes. Limps across the finish puffing and wheezing.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
ok book
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Adam Kirsch is the author of two collections of poems and several books of poetry criticism. A senior editor at the New Republic and a columnist for Tablet, he also writes for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

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