The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 4, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 224 pages
Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity.  It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead.

Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood.  And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a  family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self.  The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut.
 

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User Review  - jimrgill - LibraryThing

Nearly twenty years after its original publication, this unique book continues to defy classification. Part memoir, part family history, part socio-cultural critique—The Elusive Embrace resonates as ... Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
41
Section 3
93
Section 4
156
Section 5
203
Section 6
207
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About the author (2012)

DANIEL MENDELSOHN is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, where he is the Editor at Large. His books include the international best seller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and many other honors; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; a translation, with commentary, of the complete poems of C. P. Cavafy; and two collections of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken and Waiting for the Barbarians. A professor of Humanities at Bard College, he is Director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation.

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