We Need Silence to Find Out What We Think Selected Essays
Spanning the 1960s to the 2000s, these nonfiction writings showcase Shirley Hazzard's extensive thinking on global politics, international relations, the history and fraught present of Western literary culture, and postwar life in Europe and Asia. They add essential clarity to the themes that dominate her award-winning fiction and expand the intellectual registers in which her writings work. Hazzard writes about her employment at the United Nations and the institution's manifold failings. She shares her personal experience with the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and the nature of life in late-1940s Hong Kong. She speaks to the decline of the hero as a public figure in Western literature and affirms the ongoing power of fiction to console, inspire, and direct human life, despite-or maybe because of-the world's disheartening realities. Cementing Hazzard's place as one of the twentieth century's sharpest and most versatile thinkers, this collection also encapsulates for readers the critical events defining postwar letters, thought, and politics.
This book shows that Hazzard is a fierce defender of the humanistic belief in the efficacy of literature (especially poetry) and art to illuminate the truth and to provide meaningful insight into the mystery of human existence.? -- Michael Collier, author of An Individual History Hazzard's essays are full of crystalline turns of phrase and aphoristic expressions of her core humanist principles--as well as of revealing, often fascinating, political contradictions. Scholars and students of Hazzard will strike gold. -- Claire Seiler, Dickinson College A rich, urbane, insightful collection. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Shirley Hazzard won the National Book Award for her 2003 novel The Great Fire and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Transit of Venus. She is the author of The Evening of the Holiday and The Bay of Noon, which was nominated for the Lost Booker Prize; Greene on Capri, a memoir of Graham Greene; and People in Glass Houses, based on her time at the United Nations. She lives in New York City and Capri. Brigitta Olubas is associate professor of English in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales. She is the editor of the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature and the author of Shirley Hazzard: Literary Expatriate and Cosmopolitan Humanist.
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Shirley Hazzard--Author, Amateur, Intellectual, by Brigitta OlubasPart I. Through Literature ItselfWe Need Silence to Find Out What We ThinkThe Lonely Word1. Virgil and Montale2. The Defense of Candor3. Posterity: "The Bright Reversion"Part II. The Expressive WordA Mind Like a Blade: Review of Muriel Spark, Collected Stories I and The Public ImageReview of Jean Rhys, QuartetThe Lasting Sickness of Naples: Review of Matilde Serao, Il Ventre di NapoliThe New Novel by the New Nobel Prize Winner: Review of Patrick White, The Eye of the StormOrdinary People: Review of Barbara Pym, Quartet in Autumn and Excellent WomenTranslating ProustIntroduction to Geoffrey Scott's The Portrait of Z lideIntroduction to Iris Origo's Leopardi: A Study in SolitudeWilliam MaxwellPart III. Public ThemesThe Patron Saint of the UN is Pontius Pilate"Gulag" and the Men of PeaceThe United Nations: Where Governments Go to ChurchThe League of Frightened Men: Why the UN is So UselessUNhelpful: Waldheim's Latest DebacleA Writer's Reflections on the Nuclear AgePart IV. The Great OccasionCanton More FarPapyrology at NaplesThe Tuscan in Each of UsPart V. Last Words2003 National Book Award AcceptanceThe New York Society Library Discussion, September 2012NotesIndex