Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Hardwick

We here at Stevereads pause to note with intense sadness the death of Elizabeth Hardwick, whose little biography of Herman Melville is better than all the big ones, and whose literary essays shine with wit and discernment the equal of anything this side of Virginia Woolf. Hardwick helped create the great New York Review of Books, but more importantly, she almost single-handedly created a new kind of literary essay, more passionate and more personal than the old mode but no less learned.

In a perfect afterworld, she would now be free to drink late, late into the night, talking books and good letters with Erasmus and Montaigne and Gibbon and all her departed comrades from the New York intellectual scene she so adorned. Stuck as we are in this world, we can only salute her memory and try to get along without her, as unthinkable as that seems right now.

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