March 2, 2011


Elizabeth Hardwick, The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney (New York: New York Review Books, 2010) (From the backcover: "This first collection of Hardwick's short fiction reveals her brilliance as a stylist and as an observer of contemporary life. A young woman returns from New York to her childhood Kentucky home and discovers the world of difference within her. A girl's boyfriend is not quite good enough. his 'silvery eyes, light and cool, revealing nothing except pure possibility, like a coin in hand.' A magazine editor's life falls strangely to pieces after she loses both her husband and her job. Individual lives and the life of New York, the setting or backdrop for most of these stories, are strikingly and memorably depicted in Hardwick's beautiful and razor-sharp prose.").

Elizabeth Hardwick, Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature, with an Introduction by Joan Didion (New York: New York Review Books, 2001) (From the title essay: "Seduction may be baneful, even tragic, but the seducer at his work is essentially comic." Id. at 175. "The most interesting seducers are actually rapists; for instance, Don Giovanni and Lovelace. Their whole character is trapped in the moil of domination, and they drudge on, never satisfied, never resting, mythically hungry. The fact that the two characters mentioned are gentlemen gives a stinging complication to their obsessions. Ritual comes naturally to them and birth bestows rights and blurs cruelties. What we may feel is a misplaced elaboration of desire in a gentleman would be in a man of less imagination of of inferior social and personal decoration simply coarse or criminal. In the common man, excessive demand fore sex is repulsive. Gentlemen merely run the risk of being ridiculous. . . . " Id. at 175-176. "Biology is destiny only for girls. . . ." Id at 189. "Now the old plot is dead, fallen into obsolescence. You cannot seduce anyone when innocence is not a value. Technology annihilates consequences. Heroism hurts and no one easily consents to be under its rule. The heroines in Henry James, rich and in every way luckily endowed by circumstance, are seduced and betrayed by surfaces, misled because life, under certain rules, is a language they haven't the key to. Feeling and desire hang on and thus misfortune (if not tragedy) in the emotional life is always ahead of us, waiting its turn. Stoicism, growing to meet the tyrannical demands of consequence, cannot be without its remaining uses in life and love; but if we read contemporary fiction we learn that improvisation is better, more economical, faster, more promising." Id. at 205.).

Hardwick, Elizabeth, Sleepless Nights, with an introduction by Geoffrey O'Brien (New York: New York review Books, , 1979, 2001) (From the backcover: "In Sleepless Nights a woman looks back on her life--the parade of people, the shifting background of place--and assembles a scrapbook of memories, reflections, portraits, letters, wishes, and dreams. An inspired fusion of fact and invention, this beautifully realized, hard-bitten, lyrical book is not only Elizabeth Hardwick's finest fiction but one of the outstanding contributions to American literature of the last fifty years.").