Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
Pages: 640
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick

by Elizabeth Hardwick, selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney

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An NYRB Classics Original

Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. She covered civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, places where she lived, locations she traveled to, theater she had seen, and murder trials that gripped her. She wrote sketches for various occasions and countless essays about literature, her greatest passion. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavor. The continuous attention to language, the structure of observations, the line of interpretation— Hardwick deserves to be read and reread for the clarity of her perceptions and her enduring assessments of literature and society, and simply for the beauty of her writing alone.

Edited and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney, The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick gathers more than fifty essays for a retrospective of this writer or moral courage, as Joan Didion called her. Hardwick’s readings define literature itself.


Just as Edwin Denby, Clement Greenberg, and Pauline Kael transformed the nature of criticism in the fields of dance, art, and film, respectively, Hardwick has redefined the possibilities of the literary essay.
The New Yorker

Among twentieth-century literary essayists, only Virginia Woolf has created comparable likenesses.
—Joyce Carol Oates

Elizabeth Hardwick is our most original, brilliant, and amusing critic. Many of these essays are already classics for their insight and style.
—Diane Johnson

Literature, history, social criticism, and an original and cryptically brilliant intelligence meet in this engrossing—and permanent—collection.
—Cynthia Ozick

Hardwick has a gift for coming up with descriptions so thoughtfully selected, so exactly right, that they strike the reader as inevitable.
—Anne Tyler