The Men in My Life

Author(s): Vivian Gornick

Anthologies, Essays & Journals

Vivian Gornick, one of our finest critics, tackled the theme of love and marriage in her last collection of essays, The End of the Novel of Love, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In this new collection, she turns her attention to another large theme in literature: the struggle for the semblance of inner freedom. Great literature, she believes, is not the record of the achievement, but of the effort.

Gornick, who emerged as a major writer during the second-wave feminist movement, came to realize that "ideology alone could not purge one of the pathological self-doubt that seemed every woman's bitter birthright." Or, as Anton Chekhov put it so memorably: "Others made me a slave, but I must squeeze the slave out of myself, drop by drop." Perhaps surprisingly, Gornick found particular inspiration for this challenge in the work of male writers—talented, but locked in perpetual rage, self-doubt, or social exile. From these men—who had infinitely more permission to do and be than women had ever known—she learned what it really meant to wrestle with demons.

In the essays collected here, she explores the work of V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. Throughout the book, Gornick is at her best: interpreting the intimate interrelationship of emotional damage, social history, and great literature.

Praise for The End of the Novel of Love: "[Gornick] is fearless.... Reading her essays, one is reassured that the conversation between life and literature is mutually sustaining as well as mutually corrective."
Elizabeth Frank, New York Times Book Review

"Reading [Gornick] is a thrilling, invigorating, challenging experience."
Barbara Fisher, Boston Sunday Globe

"Vivian Gornick's prose is so penetrating that reading it can be almost painful.... [This book] stands out as a model of luminous clarity."
Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times

Praise for The Solitude of the Self: "I love writers who treat thinking as a dynamic process. Ms. Gornick does—here and in all her books. Imagine a photographer of the psyche. She studies her subject from all angles. Whether in close-up or on a landscape crowded with political and religious movements, she explores the public and private selves.... What a potent book this is!"
Margo Jefferson, New York Times

A Boston Review Book


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Product Information

Vivian Gornick is the author of many books, including Fierce Attachments: A Memoir, The Romance of American Communism, The End of the Novel of Love, The Situation and the Story, and, most recently, The Solitude of the Self: Thinking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

General Fields

  • : 9780262073035
  • : MIT Press Ltd
  • : MIT Press
  • : 0.272
  • : December 2007
  • : 19.00 cmmm X 11.40 cmmm X 1.40 cmmm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Vivian Gornick
  • : Hardback
  • : en
  • : 814.608
  • : 194