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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... Fran ois F nelon, 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 Rings 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.
DANIEL MENDELSOHN is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, where he is the Editor at Large. His books include the international best sellers An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic, a PBS/New York Times Book Club Pick and a Best Book of the Year by NPR and many others, and The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Prix Médicis in France; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; a translation, with commentary, of the complete poems of C. P. Cavafy; and three collections of essays, Ecstasy and Terror, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, and Waiting for the Barbarians. Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate is his tenth book. A professor of Humanities at Bard College, he is Director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation. www.danielmendelsohn.com
JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of eleven novels, including Girl In Landscape and The Fortress of Solitude. His fifth, Motherless Brooklyn, won the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. A Macarthur Fellow in 2005, Lethem’s writing has been translated into over thirty languages, and his stories and essays collected in five volumes. His twelfth novel, The Arrest, will be published by Ecco in November.