One of the great critics of our time . . . revelatory.
—Craig Taylor, The New York Times Book Review
Mendelsohn, a classicist by training, may be criticism’s answer to Michael Jordan; highbrow, lowbrow, antiquity, modernity, Sappho, “Suits” — he can do all the moves, as these essays, sparkling with insight and erudition, show.
—The New York Times Book Review
The pieces in Ecstasy and Terror . . . range magnificently in topic to include Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, the poetry of Sappho and Cavafy, the assassination of JFK, the Boston bombings, and Hanya [Yanagihara]’s A Little Life. [Daniel Mendelsohn’s] work is a much-needed reminder that it is possible to be fair, thoughtful, and accurate while nevertheless offering a definitively positive or negative critique. It is a pleasure to think with him.
A must-read in this age where expertise is so often airily dismissed . . . Lots of critics routinely make light references to Greek myth and literature, but in Mendelsohn's writing such connections mean something, they illuminate more . . . To read a signature Mendelsohn essay is to be educated and entertained, and, always, freshly aware of how much more there is to read and know.
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR
[A] master class in criticism, a rangy, perspicacious, occasionally spiky excursion into cultures both ancient and contemporary. His breadth of reference is characteristically formidable — "From the Greeks to Game of Thrones" (the book’s subtitle), "from Corneille to 'The Crown'" — and put to good use. He knows that a well-chosen example, especially one that collapses traditional distinctions between high and popular culture, can be erudite, authoritative, even cool, all at once. There are dozens here. But they always feel earned; he’s done the hard work. To read Mendelsohn is to gain a synoptic view of a subject, whether it’s the novels of Ingmar Bergman, "the Sappho wars" or the unexpected relationship between robots and Homer.
—Charles Arrowsmith, The Washington Post
Daniel Mendelsohn is not only an incisive critic and elegant prose stylist but also a brilliant translator. . . . Even in his criticism, Mendelsohn brings a translator’s sensibility to the texts, films and plays he approaches.
—Donna Zuckerberg, The Times Literary Supplement
Mendelsohn's points are always passionately argued. He strikes the perfect balance between learned and playful . . . One fascinating essay after another from one of America's best critics.
—Kirkus, starred review
Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho and gives them a vivid urgency for the present moment . . . He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.