Ever the provocateur, as the title suggests, Camille Paglia, the author of the controversial and bestselling Sexual Personae, has challenged and enraged scholars and critics for the last three decades. Provocations collects Paglia’s wide-ranging essays on history, film, literature, feminism, education, sex, politics, and religion. “This book is not for everyone,” Paglia writes in the introduction, and she’s right in the sense that not everyone will agree with her many arguments. But the book is, undoubtedly, the work of a writer to be reckoned with.
Thinking Without a Banister
Hannah Arendt was one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, a deeply dedicated philosopher and restless questioner and the author of such seminal works as The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem. Thinking Without a Bannister, her collected essays, is an assemblage of Arendt at her most pressing and brilliant. She’s simply—you know what, if you haven’t read Hannah Arendt, just go and get this book. You’ll thank me for it.
The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick
One of the best literary critics of the last century, Elizabeth Hardwick, in books such as Seduction and Betrayal and Sight-Readings, took on the most celebrated figures in the literary canon with brio, inimitable acumen, and piercing intelligence. Her collected essays—covering iconic figures like Martin Luther King, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and William James, as well as lesser known writers like Christina Snead, Margaret Fuller, and Ring Lardner—function as a paean to her remarkable skill and her impossibly deep reserve of insight and analysis.
At the End of the Century
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Though she won a Booker Prize in 1975 (for her novel Heat and Dust) and two Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay (for co-writing Howards End and A Room with a View; she was also nominated for The Remains of the Day), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala isn’t as well known as she should be. At the End of the Century will hopefully renew interest in Jhabvala’s complex and impeccable fiction. Born in Germany to Jewish parents in 1927, Jhabvala married Cyrus Jhabvala and moved, in 1951, to India, where many of her stories and novels are set. Delicately arranged and powerfully affecting, Jhabvala’s short fiction contains some of the best examples of the form.
The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Although the Brazilian writer and polymath Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis died in 1908, his work wasn’t translated into English until halfway through the twentieth century, and even then his work isn’t as celebrated as it should be. Ginsberg called him “another Kafka”; Susan Sontag said he was “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America”; and Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth both have expressed great admiration for his writing. The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis, then, filled as it is with wonderfully daring and ahead-of-their-time techniques, should easily place de Assis into the shelf of acknowledged masters, where he obviously belongs.
The Collected Stories of Diane Williams
Diane Williams is, along with George Saunders and Deborah Eisenberg, one of America’s best short story writers. She is also, like Lydia Davis and Amy Hempel, a master of the short-short story. But unlike those other authors, Williams is staunchly experimental, avant-garde, and yet remains, amazingly, as assessable as any of them. The Collected Stories of Diane Williams brings together over three hundred of Williams’ oddball tales, each and every one a surprise, a delight, a baffling experience, a one-of-a-kind thrill, a weird and eerie treat.
The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht
Primarily known for plays like The Threepenny Opera and Life of Galileo, Bertolt Brecht also wrote well over 1,200 poems, and The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht contains each and every one of them. At over 1,300 pages, this volume is a hefty volume, but it also displays Brecht’s astonishing ability with verse, his embittered beliefs, and his complicated place in the historical landscape. A necessary addition to Brecht’s literary renown, his collected poetry, in all its weighty glory, should rivet and enthrall any reader of poetry.
Marie Ponsot’s first collection of poetry, True Minds, was, along with Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Lawrence Ferglinghetti’s Pictures of the Gone World, a City Lights Pocket Book (the fifth, to be exact). Ever since, she has produced books of verse that measure up to esteemed company from which her career began. Her Collected Poems, recently out in paperback, is a wondrous journey through Ponsot’s unique playfulness with language, her transcendent skill with sonnets, and her joyous and profound celebration of her chosen form.
From the heartbreaking love story of Thomas and Beulah to the harrowing history of On the Bus with Rosa Parks, Rita Dove’s poetry collections have long been venerated for their beauty, their political depth, and their stark evocation of personal and cultural struggles. Brought together in one volume, Dove’s poems tell the story of one poet’s life, told with such unblinking bravery and uncannily wide-ranging perspective that it also tells the story of America.
Probably one of the most renowned living American poets, Robert Bly is also one of its most prolific. The author of some twenty-five volumes, Bly’s work has one numerous awards, been anthologized regularly, and has influenced hoards of his contemporaries and those of subsequent generations. His work is often imagistic and transcendental, and uses nature as a means to spiritualism. His Collected Poems is a major event, the culmination of over fifty years of unparalleled production.
For true bibliophiles, there is nothing lovelier than a volume of collected works. Such a book, filled as it is with a career’s worth of writing, isn’t meant to be read conventionally, from beginning to end, but can be nonlinearly perused, occasionally opened, to any old page, to one’s favorite piece, and enjoyed again and again. Add to this the fact that these collection contain all—or at least most—of an author’s work in a given form, which means when it comes to the collected writer, you’ve got them covered; never again will you have to seek out something they published, since you’ve now got everything they’ve produced in a handsome, stuffed-to-the-brim edition. Below you’ll find some recent collected works by some of the most influential and monumental talents in the world—a few you’ve no doubt read, while others may be new to you. But they all, in their careers, ran the gambit of subjects and themes, explored the outer reaches of their forms, and composed a rich array of poetry and prose.