A Temple of Texts (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In A Temple of Texts, William H. Gass holds forth on the power and value of important and influential booksbooks that have influenced not only his own writing and career but also, in his opinion, literature and (mostly Western) thought through the centuries. Many of these selections, ranging generally from 1980 to 2004, are introductions, forewords, afterwords, or previously published reviews of classic and contemporary literature; most, though, stand “on their own” as essays on the nature of reading and of literature. A Temple of Texts is a book of meticulous performance and intricate composition.
Such musical terms provide a good metaphor for Gass’s work, for in many of the reviews and essays in the book, Gass critiques and writes of the “music” of literature and writingthe effects of tones, structure, and sound on the reader (and other writers). Indeed, in “The Sentence Seeks Its Form,” Gass states that in good writing, “What you make is music, and because your sounds are carriers of concepts, you make conceptual music, too.”
Gass is a “composer” of written language in much the same way that Johann Sebastian Bach or Claude Debussy were composers of music. Many of the essays have an overtone of depth or richness reminiscent of a Bach fugue, with themes appearing and subtly giving way to other themes....
(The entire section is 1724 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, nos. 9/10 (January 1-15, 2006): 46.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 21 (November 1, 2005): 1170.
Library Journal 130, no. 20 (December 15, 2005): 130.
Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2006, p. R3.
The New York Review of Books 53, no. 17 (November 2, 2006): 45-47.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 44 (November 7, 2005): 61.
Review of Contemporary Fiction 26, no. 1 (Spring, 2006): 142-143.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 19, 2006, p. F8.
San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 2006, p. M2.
The Washington Post, February 19, 2006, p. BW15.
Weekly Standard 12, no. 2 (September 25, 2006): 33-35.
(The entire section is 61 words.)