Published when he was thirty-three, The Broken Estate is the first book of essays by the man who would become one of America's most esteemed literary critics. Ranging in subject from Jane Austen to John Updike, this collection introduced American readers to a new kind of humanist criticism. Wood is committed to judging literature through its connection with the soul, its appeal to our appetites and identities, and he examines his subjects rigorously, without ever losing sight of the mysterious human impulse that has made these works valuable to generations of readers.
Praise for The Broken Estate
“Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure.” —Los Angeles Times
“Wood is a close reader of genius. . . . There is a wonderful writing throughout this collection, by turns luscious and muscular, committed and disdaining, passionate and minutely considered.” —John Banville, The Irish Times
“Explores the special realm of fiction with extraordinary sensitivity and incisiveness. In example after example, he makes you understand its geography as you have rarely done before.” —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
“In a distinctively impassioned voice, James Wood advances some formidable arguments for what fiction and the truthful deployment of the imagination can be. He is one of literature's true lovers, and his deeply felt, contentious essays are thrilling in their reach and moral seriousness.” —Susan Sontag
“We have very few critics . . . who can remind us that talking about literature is part of what literature is about, and talking about it with passion, precision, and out of a rich store of reading is a rare and precious gift: it is good for all of us that James Wood has it and we have James Wood.” —Gabriel Josipovici, The Times Literary Supplement-