Article by Déborah Bucchi & Adrien Zirah
We see in the books of Daniel Mendelsohn how the convulsions of geopolitics forever intrude on the intimate lives of his characters. How does Mendelsohn feel about the tumult of our own times? He comments on topics ranging from the Trump presidency to the current war in Ukraine to the state of Israel, in this last installment of our interview focusing on the author’s political vision.
Daniel Mendelsohn’s writing style is a skilful blend of personal narratives and evocations of classical literary works; of the intimate and the intellectual. What is the origin of Daniel Mendelsohn’s attraction to philology? What does it have to do with his family background made of tragedies and exiles, with the fact of being Jewish and gay? These are the questions that Daniel Mendelsohn explores with us in this second episode of our interview.
Daniel Mendelsohn’s books are associated with the genre of ‘autofiction’. However, the richness of the subtexts that irrigate them, coming from the Ancient Greek and Jewish traditions, complicates the scheme of the self-narrative. To the representation of a multiple identity – Jewish, Gay and American, attached to Europe and to Ancient cultures – corresponds the variety and fluidity of an oral style. In this first episode, Daniel Mendelsohn discusses his writing style, his literary project and the genre of his work.
Starting this week, K. is publishing in several installments a long interview with Daniel Mendelsohn. The great American writer, who became famous with The Lost, is the author of a rich body of work in which various traditions (classical, Jewish and American traditions, among others) intersect and the art of storytelling fuses with scholarly analysis. Déborah Bucchi and Adrien Zirah, who conducted the interview, examine some of the most singular and ambitious elements of Mendelsohn’s oeuvre in this introduction. Bucchi and Zirah situate his work at the crossroads between auto-fiction and mythic dialogue.
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