Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas

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Alfred A. Knopf, 1998 - Fiction - 274 pages
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From the award-winning author of "The Tunnel" and "Finding a Form" -- four interrelated novellas that explore Mind, Matter, and God. In the first novella, Gass redefines Descartes' philosophy. God is a writer in a constant state of fumble. Mind is represented by a housewife who is a modern-day Cassandra. And Matter is, what (and who) else but the helpless and confused husband of Mind. In the novella that follows, the concept of salvation is explored through material possessions -- a collection of kitsch -- as a traveling businessman is slowly lost in the sheer surfeit of matter in a small Illinois town. In another, Gass explores the mind's ability to escape. A young woman growing up in rural Iowa finds herself losing touch with the physical world as she loses herself in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. And in 'The Master of Secret Revenges, ' God appears in the form of Descartes' evil demon, Lucifer, as Gass chronicles the life of a young man named Luther and his development from his devilish youth to his demonic adulthood. A profound exploration of good and evil, philosophy and action, filled with the wit and style that have defined the work of William Gass.

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CARTESIAN SONATA: and Other Novellas

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Four virtuoso performances, playfully juggling exuberant prose with sly postmodern speculations on the nature of desire, fiction, and the soul. A fascination with absorption, with the process of ... Read full review

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User Review  - tristero1959 - LibraryThing

I have finished the first novella, painfully so. I'm not a big fan of metafiction. I'm going to give a little time before I try again. The rating may change. Read full review


Bed and Breakfast
Emma Enters a Sentence
The Master of Secret Revenges

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About the author (1998)

William Gass is the author of four novels and five books of essays. He has been the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has won four Pushcart Prizes and has appeared four times in the Martha Foley annual collection Best American Short Stories. He has received two awards from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and two National Book Critics Circle Awards for Criticism. He lives in St. Louis, where he is the Director of the International Writers Center.

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