Morning, Noon & Night: Finding the Meaning of Life's Stages Through Books

Front Cover
Random House, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 442 pages
17 Reviews
From Homer and Shakespeare to Toni Morrison and Jonathan Safran Foer, major works of literature have a great deal to teach us about two of life's most significant stages—growing up and growing old. Distinguised scholar Arnold Weinstein's provocative and engaging new book, Morning, Noon, and Night, explores classic writing's insights into coming-of-age and surrendering to time, and considers the impact of these revelations upon our lives.

With wisdom, humor, and moving personal observations, Weinstein leads us to look deep inside ourselves and these great books, to see how we can use art as both mirror and guide. He offers incisive readings of seminal novels about childhood—Huck Finn's empathy for the runaway slave Jim illuminates a child's moral education; Catherine and Heathcliff's struggle with obsessive passion in Wuthering Heights is hauntingly familiar to many young lovers; Dickens's Pip, in Great Expectations, must grapple with a world that wishes him harm; and in Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical Persepolis, little Marjane faces a different kind of struggle—growing into adolescence as her country moves through the pain of the Iranian Revolution.

In turn, great writers also ponder the lessons learned in life's twilight years: both King Lear and Willy Loman suffer as their patriarchal authority collapses and death creeps up; Brecht's Mother Courage displays the inspiring indomitability of an aging woman who has “borne every possible blow. . . but is still standing, still moving.” And older love can sometimes be funny (Rip Van Winkle conveniently sleeps right through his marriage) and sometimes tragic (as J. M. Coetzee's David Lurie learns the hard way, in Disgrace).

Tapping into the hearts and minds of memorable characters, from Sophocles' Oedipus to Artie in Art Spiegelman's Maus, Morning, Noon, and Night makes an eloquent and powerful case for the role of great literature as a knowing window into our lives and times. Its intelligence, passion, and genuine appreciation for the written word remind us just how crucial books are to the business of being human.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

The first book I won through Goodreads. A very good prize, all things considered. I enjoyed the discussion of books, and how the related to the musings of the author's life. I haven't read everything ... Read full review

Review: Morning, Noon, and Night: Growing Up and Growing Old with Literature

User Review  - Ian Lunam - Goodreads

Well worth the read. Shame he focuses a bit much on American literature. Gave me a few more books to add to my list. Read full review

About the author (2011)

Arnold Weinstein is the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University and the author of A Scream Goes Through the House: What Literature Teaches Us About Life and Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison. His other books include Vision and Response in Modern Fiction; Fictions of the Self: 1550–1800; The Fiction of Relationship; Nobody's Home: Speech, Self, and Place in American Fiction from Hawthorne to DeLillo; and Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman. His lectures on world literature are produced in DVD and CD format by The Teaching Company. Professor Weinstein divides his time between Brown University, Block Island, Stockholm, and Brittany.

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