Incarnation and Metamorphosis

Incarnation and Metamorphosis

"Witty and heartfelt essays, shaken and stirred."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Mason's sharp interpretations make a persuasive case that great literature's complexity and ambiguity can, at its best, produce empathy and understanding in readers. Book lovers will find much to ponder."
--Publishers Weekly

"These essays are by turns expansive, sustaining and astringent, occasionally bromidic yet often incisive. One feels Mason hitting his stride as he enthuses infectiously over Tom Stoppard and Kay Ryan, Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath ('a lesson in critical circumspection'), fellow poet-critics Clive James and John Burnside, unfashionable writers such as Joyce Carey and Weldon Kees, and the Australian Helen Garner. He argues convincingly, if counterintuitively, for the outsider status of Dana Gioia, and laments that despite his 'mastery of dramatic voice' and 'comic melancholia, ' Michael Donaghy is 'yet to find a major American publisher.'"
--Jaya Savige, Times Literary Supplement

"Literary criticism," David Mason writes, "ought to entertain as well as illuminate." In these essays Mason tells stories about embodiment and change, incarnation and metamorphosis, drawing connections between art and life without confusing the two. Mason considers the many kinds of change we encounter in our lives, our desire for justice, and the ways great writers complicate that desire. He discusses the lives and works of Montaigne, Diderot, and Neruda, as well as his colorful father's fascination with a fictional character. He takes up such contemporary figures as the daring Australian writer Helen Garner, the playwright Tom Stoppard, and the poet-critic Dana Gioia; and he has fresh things to say about the perils of fame in the careers of Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney and mourns the loss of poet Michael Donaghy.

Incarnation & Metamorphosis is a book about living with literature--Mason writes that literature tells "us that we are seen, warts and all. Criticism, such as the essays in this book, is a way of seeing back."

Publication Date: 
March 7, 2023