In addition to his work as a film critic, Roger Ebert is also the author of a number of books, including Awake in the Dark.
Inspired by Esquire and Deadspin‘s moving tributes to Ebert, GalleyCat Reviews collected some bookish material from the great critic. Do you have a favorite literary essay from Ebert? Add your links in the comments section…
Here, the great critic remembers reading Jonathan Swift‘s famous essay, “A Modest Proposal,” for the first time: “I remember Miss Seward at Urbana High School, telling us to read it in class and note the exact word at which Swift’s actual purpose became clear. None of us had ever heard of it, and she didn’t use a giveaway word like “satire.” Yet not a single person in the class concluded that Swift was seriously proposing that the starving Irish eat their babies. We all got it.”
In a touching essay about his messy, well-loved library, Ebert celebrated the critically rejected novel, By Love Possessed by James Could Cozzens: “It and the other books on the list have been rendered obsolete, so that his essay is cruelly dated. But I remember reading the novel late into the night when I was 14, stirring restlessly with the desire to be possessed by love. I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they’re like little shrines to my past hours.” More examples after the jump…
Want more reviews? Follow this link to download the February 2010 print edition of GalleyCat Reviews–one month worth of criticism and literary links.
Here is a link to Ebert’s tribute to an old mystery novelist: “Harry Stephen Keeler was the most prolific Chicago novelist of all time–and perhaps the most forgotten, although perhaps we may have forgotten an even more forgotten novelist. Not even the devoted, even fanatical, members of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society claim significant fame for him. Yet perhaps no published author in history has produced more convoluted, bizarre plots, one of them related entirely in dialog between two men stranded on a small river island, another concealing its denouement within a Sealed Page at the end.”
In a tribute to London and novelists, Ebert curated a video homage to the English city entitled: “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. — Dr. Johnson.”