New York City, New York, United States
Michael Gorra attends the 2014 National Book Awards on November 19, 2014, in New York City. Photo by Robin Marchant
Amherst, MA 01002, United States
In 1979 Michael Gorra received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.
450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, United States
In 1986 Michael Gorra obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Stanford University.
20 Rope Ferry Rd, Waterford, CT 06385, United States
In 1975 Michael Gorra graduated from Waterford High School.
Michael Gorra. Photo by Jim Gipe
(Most critical accounts of that postwar generation have be...)
Most critical accounts of that postwar generation have been constrained by having to deal with the myth of the 'thirties.' Michael Gorra's innovation in this exciting study of the postwar generation's major novelists lies in seeing the consequences of that dissolution in formal rather than political terms, arguing that the novelist's difficulty in representing a human character in what Wyndham Lewis called a 'shell-shocked' age is itself a sign of that loss of belief. But while most studies of this generation end with the coming of World War II, Gorra follows these novelists throughout their careers. The result is a book that not only shows how the British novel's increasing consciousness of its own limitations stands as a mirror to the country's loss of power, but also provides memorable portraits of four major twentieth-century writers.
(In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelist...)
In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire - Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie - have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
(Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a m...)
Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades Project. He reads post-Wende Berlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing. Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries - and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood - The Bells in Their Silence offers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form.
(Henry James (1843–1916) has had many biographers, but Mic...)
Henry James (1843–1916) has had many biographers, but Michael Gorra has taken an original approach to this great American progenitor of the modern novel, combining elements of biography, criticism, and travelogue in re-creating the dramatic backstory of James’s masterpiece, Portrait of a Lady (1881). Gorra, an eminent literary critic, shows how this novel - the scandalous story of the expatriate American heiress Isabel Archer - came to be written in the first place. Traveling to Florence, Rome, Paris, and England, Gorra sheds new light on James’s family, the European literary circles - George Eliot, Flaubert, Turgenev - in which James made his name and the psychological forces that enabled him to create this most memorable of female protagonists. Appealing to readers of Menand’s The Metaphysical Club and McCullough’s The Greater Journey, Portrait of a Novel provides a brilliant account of the greatest American novel of expatriate life ever written. It becomes a piercing detective story on its own.
(William Faulkner, one of America’s most iconic writers, i...)
William Faulkner, one of America’s most iconic writers, is an author who defies easy interpretation. Born in 1897 in Mississippi, Faulkner wrote such classic novels as Absolom, Absolom! and The Sound and The Fury, creating in Yoknapatawpha county one of the most memorable galleries of characters ever assembled in American literature. Yet, as acclaimed literary critic Michael Gorra explains, Faulkner has sustained justified criticism for his failures of racial nuance - his ventriloquism of black characters and his rendering of race relations in a largely unreconstructed South - demanding that we reevaluate the Nobel laureate’s life and legacy in the twenty-first century, as we reexamine the junctures of race and literature in works that once rested firmly in the American canon.
In 1975 Michael Gorra graduated from Waterford High School. In 1979 Gorra received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College. In 1986 he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Stanford University.
In 1985 Michael Gorra joined the faculty of Smith College as a professor of English. He is currently the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at this college. He is a freelance book reviewer for periodicals, including Times Literary Supplement, Boston Globe, and London Review of Books.
Gorra has published The English Novel at Mid-Century: From the Leaning Tower (1990), After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (1997), The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004), Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of An American Masterpiece (2012), The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (2020).
His books The English Novel at MidCentury and After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie examine the lives and works of many influential writers, some his contemporaries, some not. After Empire: Scott, Naipaul Rushdie, revolves around the issue of postcolonial literature and the identity conflicts most of these works entail. In particular. After Empire examines English identity in the face of colonized India and Indian identity under British rule.
His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the TLS, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review, among others, and his travel essays have twice been included in the annual volumes of Best American Travel Writing. In 2014 he was a judge for the National Book Award in fiction.
(Henry James (1843–1916) has had many biographers, but Mic...)2012
(Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a m...)2004
(Most critical accounts of that postwar generation have be...)1990
(William Faulkner, one of America’s most iconic writers, i...)2020
(In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelist...)1997
Michael Gorra is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Michael Gorra is married to Brigitte Buettner, an art historian. They have a daughter, Miriam.