The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays

The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays

A collection of the New Yorker critic's finest essays, which examine the books that reveal and record our world.

Joan Acocella was "one of our finest cultural critics" (Edward Hirsch), and she had the rare ability to examine literature and unearth the lives contained within it--its authors, its subjects, and the communities from which it springs. In her hands, arts criticism was a celebration and an investigation, and her essays pulse with unadulterated enthusiasm. As Kathryn Harrison wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "Hers is a vision that allows art its mystery but not its pretensions, to which she is acutely sensitive. What better instincts could a critic have?"

The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays gathers twenty-four essays from the final decade and a half of Acocella's career, as well as an introduction that frames her simple preoccupations: "life and art." In agile, inspired prose, she moves from J. R. R. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf to the life of Richard Pryor, from surveying profanity to untangling the book of Job. Her appetite (and reading list) knew no bounds. This collection is a joy and a revelation, a library in itself, and Acocella is our dream companion among its shelves.

Includes 25 black-and-white images

Publication Date: 
February 20, 2024