Lorsque Jay Mendelsohn, âgé de quatre-vingt-un ans, décide de suivre le séminaire que son fils Daniel consacre à l'Odyssée d'Homère, père et fils commencent un périple de grande ampleur. Ils s'affrontent dans la salle de classe, puis se découvrent pendant les dix jours d'une croisière thématique sur les traces d'Ulysse.
Croisant les thèmes de l'enfance et de la mort, de l'amour et du voyage, de la filiation et de la transmission, cette exploration fascinante de l'Odyssée fait écho au récit merveilleux de la redécouverte mutuelle d'un père et de son fils.
Enfant déjà, Daniel Mendelsohn savait que son grand-oncle Shmiel, sa femme et leurs quatre filles avaient été tués dans l'est de la Pologne en 1941. Plus tard, il découvre des lettres désespérées de Shmiel à son frère, installé en Amérique. Des lettres pressant sa famille de les aider, des lettres demeurées sans réponse... Parce qu'il a voulu donner un visage à ces six disparus, Daniel Mendelsohn est parti sur leurs traces. Cette quête, il en a fait un puzzle vertigineux, un roman policier haletant, une plongée dans l'histoire et l'oubli - un chef-d'oeuvre.
Trois anneaux raconte l'histoire de trois écrivains en exil qui se sont tournés vers les classiques de la littérature pour créer leurs propres chefs-d'oeuvre. Erich Auerbach, philologue juif qui fuit l'Allemagne nazie pour Istanbul afin d'y écrire sa grande étude des lettres européennes, Mimésis. François Fénelon, l'évêque du XVII? siècle auteur d'une suite de L'Odyssée, Les Aventures de Télémaque, best-seller de son époque qui lui valut le bannissement. Et l'écrivain allemand W.G. Sebald, qui s'exila en Angleterre et dont les récits si singuliers explorent les thèmes du déplacement et de la nostalgie.À ce conte d'exils, Daniel Mendelsohn ajoute sa propre voix, entrelaçant l'histoire de la crise qu'il traversa entre l'écriture de la grande fresque mémorielle des Disparus et celle du récit intimiste d'Une odyssée.«L'art poétique» qui en résulte est un hommage aux mondes grec et juif, un trait d'union entre Orient et Occident, et une ode à la littérature française.
Une enfance dans une famille juive unie autour de la figure fondatrice du grand-père, une jeunesse incandescente et hantée, voilà ce qui a forgé les deux passions de Daniel Mendelsohn : passion pour les langues anciennes, passion pour les garçons. Dès lors, sa " grammaire de l'identité" suivra des méandres bouleversants. Lorsqu'une amie lui propose d'incarner le père auprès de l'enfant qu'elle porte, il va partager sa vie entre les " garçons " de Chelsea et la banlieue où habite sa nouvelle famille. Et toujours, chez l'auteur des Disparus, poèmes latins et tragédies grecques se font l'écho d'un secret de famille lancinant.
Ce recueil réunit une vingtaine de critiques sur des oeuvres cinématographiques (Marie-Antoinette de Sofia Coppola, Avatar, etc.) et littéraires («L'empreinte de l'ange» d'Alice Sebold, «Un homme» de Philip Roth, «Le maître» de Colm Toibin, etc.) parues dans la «New York Review of books» et le «New Yorker».
''Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho, Homer and Horace ... He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.'' Sebastian Barry Over the past three decades, Daniel Mendelsohn''s essays and reviews have earned him a reputation as ''our most irresistible literary critic'' (New York Times). This striking new collection exemplifies the way in which Mendelsohn - a classicist by training - uses the classics as a lens to think about urgent contemporary debates. There is much to surprise here. Mendelsohn invokes the automatons featured in Homer''s epics to help explain the AI films Ex Machina and Her, and perceives how Ted Hughes sought redemption by translating a play of Euripides (the ''bad boy of Athens'') about a wayward husband whose wife returns from the dead. There are essays on Sappho''s sexuality and the feminism of Game of Thrones; on how Virgil''s Aeneid prefigures post-World War II history and why we are still obsessed with the Titanic; on Patrick Leigh Fermor''s final journey, Karl Ove Knausgaard''s autofiction and the plays of Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward. The collection ends with a poignant account of the author''s boyhood correspondence with the historical novelist Mary Renault, which inspired his ambition to become a writer. In The Bad Boy of Athens, Mendelsohn provokes and dazzles with erudition, emotion and tart wit while his essays dance across eras, cultures and genres. This is a provocative collection which sees today''s master of popular criticism using the ancient past to reach into the very heart of modern culture.
From the award-winning, best-selling writer: a deeply moving tale of a father and son''s transformative journey in reading - and reliving - Homer''s epic masterpiece.
When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enrol in the undergraduate seminar on the Odyssey that his son Daniel teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. For Jay, a retired research scientist who sees the world through a mathematician''s unforgiving eyes, this return to the classroom is his ''one last chance'' to learn about the great literature he''d neglected in his youth - and, even more, a final opportunity to understand his son.
But through the sometimes-uncomfortable months that follow, as the two men explore Homer''s great work together - first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son''s interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus'' legendary voyages - it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: for Jay''s responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn''s narrative comes to echo The Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home.
Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar''s most revelatory entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration.
''A gripping detective story, a stirring epic, a tale of ghosts and dark marvels, a thrilling display of scholarship, a meditation on the unfathomable mystery of good and evil, ''The Lost'' is as complex and rich with meaning and story as the past it seeks to illuminate. A beautiful book, beautifully written'' Michael Chabon In this updated edition of Daniel Mendelsohn''s classic, riveting narrative, a writer''s search for the truth behind his family''s tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic - part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work - that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.
''The Lost'' begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust - an unmentionable subject that gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939 and tantalised by the fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relative''s fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents, and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family''s story began, and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him.
Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving a world-wandering odyssey with childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews, and provocative ruminations on biblical texts and Jewish history, ''The Lost'' transforms the story of one family into a profound, morally searching meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Deeply personal, grippingly suspenseful, and beautifully written, this literary tour de force illuminates all that is lost, and found, in the passage of time.
Winner of the 2020 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger , France''s best foreign book of the year.
''Astounding'' Sebastian Barry ''A masterpiece'' Ayad Akhtar ''This little book is ruminative, humane, and gorgeously precise'' Jonathan Lethem In this genre-defying book, best-selling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell.
Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Three Rings weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own-works that pondered the nature of narrative itself.
Erich Auerbach , the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler''s Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, Mimesis , in Istanbul.
Francois Fenelon , the seventeenth-century French archbishop whose ingenious sequel to the Odyssey , The Adventures of Telemachus - a veiled critique of the Sun King and the best-selling book in Europe for one hundred years - resulted in his banishment.
And the German novelist W. G. Sebald , self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home.
Intertwined with these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn''s struggles to write two of his own books-a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father-that are haunted by tales of oppression and wandering. As Three Ring s moves to its startling conclusion, a climactic revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries forces the reader to reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life.
Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity. It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead. Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood. And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self. The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut.