A collection of essays from a “great poet-critic-intellectual” (Daily Beast).
Adam Kirsch has been described as "elegant and astute…[a] critic of the very first order" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). In these brilliant, wide-ranging essays, published over the last eight years in the New Republic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, Kirsch shows how literature can illuminate questions of meaning, ethics, and politics, and how those questions shape the way we take pleasure in art. In Rocket and Lightship he examines the work and life of writers past and present, from intellectuals Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, and Walter Benjamin to novelists including E. M. Forster, David Foster Wallace, and Zadie Smith. Kirsch quotes G. M. Hopkins: "Nor rescue, only rocket and lightship, shone." So shines literature, in these unflinchingly bold and provocative essays—as an illuminating, regenerative, and immortalizing force.