New And Selected Essays
Chekhov’s Mistress consists of twenty-seven essays about 19th and 20th century writers. Novelists include Stendhal, Flaubert, Camus, Malcolm Lowry, D. H. Lawrence and several others. Poets include Plath, Machado, Rimbaud, Elizabeth Bishop, Pessoa, and Whitman. There are several philosophers, such as E. M. Cioran and Max Scheler, and several epics by T. E. Lawrence and the Brazilian Euclides da Cunha. Edmund Gosse and Edward Dahlberg represent autobiographies. Madame de Stael, Turgenev, and the cafes of Sartre and Beauvoir make an appearance.
Some of the essays are straightforward critiques, but many use unusual framing devices. Quentin Tarantino pitches an epic film to Harvey Weinstein. Pasolini’s murder is described in a series of official documents. The poetics of Sylvia Plath is a podcast by a Vassar grad.
Levy is as eccentric and original as some of his subjects. For instance, he dissects the Nobel Prize lecture by the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, and he describes Rimbaud’s life in Africa with an interview in Rolling Stone magazine.