The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End by Katie Roiphe

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Read The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End Online Free - From one of our most perceptive and provocative voices comes a deeply researched account of the last days of Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, and Maurice Sendak—an arresting and wholly original meditation on mortality.
In The Violet Hour, Katie Roiphe takes an unexpected and liberating approach to the most unavoidable of subjects. She investigates the last days of five great thinkers, writers, and artists as they come to terms with the reality of approaching death, or what T. S. Eliot called “the evening hour that strives Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea.”
Roiphe draws on her own extraordinary research and access to the family, friends, and caretakers of her subjects. Here is Susan Sontag, the consummate public intellectual, who finds her commitment to rational thinking tested during her third bout with cancer. Roiphe takes us to the hospital room where, after receiving the worst possible diagnosis, seventy-six-year-old John Updike begins writing a poem. She vividly re-creates the fortnight of almost suicidal excess that culminated in Dylan Thomas’s fatal collapse on the floor of a Greenwich Village tavern. She gives us a bracing portrait of Sigmund Freud fleeing Nazi-occupied Vienna only to continue in his London exile the compulsive cigar smoking that he knows will hasten his decline. And she shows us how Maurice Sendak’s beloved books for children are infused with his lifelong obsession with death, if you know where to look.
The Violet Hour is a book filled with intimate and surprising revelations. In the final acts of each of these creative geniuses are examples of courage, passion, self-delusion, pointless suffering, and superb devotion. There are also moments of sublime insight and understanding where the mind creates its own comfort. As the author writes, “If it’s nearly impossible to capture the approach of death in words, who would have the most hope of doing it?” By bringing these great writers’ final days to urgent, unsentimental life, Katie Roiphe helps us to look boldly in the face of death and be less afraid.

Title : The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0385343590
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 pages


Diane S ☔ rated it ★★★☆☆

March 09, 2016

3.5 When I was young, not that I think I am old now, I would pluck books off the shelves like candy. I had a few favorite authors but never really thought about their lives outside their words on the page. This book is about death, but it is also about their lives, their personalities, and all th...

Lolly K Dandeneau rated it ★★★★★

December 09, 2015

I devoured this. I don't find it macabre to be interested in death, let's face it- it's coming for all of us. Here some accept it, fight it, fear it, embrace it, question it and create with it. What better way to face your fears than to use it as a creative outlet?The panic that Updike felt isn't...

Rebecca rated it ★★★★★

May 05, 2016

The subtitle – “Great Writers at the End” – gives you a hint of what to expect from this erudite, elegiac work of literary biography. In a larger sense, it is about coming to terms with the fear of death, one of the last enduring Western phobias. Roiphe was a sickly, morbid child. After a serious,...

Ginger rated it ★★★★☆

November 06, 2017

I was drawn to Katie Roiphe’s book, The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End, because I am fascinated by the lives of the writers whose experiences with death and dying she attempted to capture—Susan Sontag, John Updike, Sigmund Freud, Dylan Thomas, and Maurice Sendak. I was not disappointed. Ro...

James rated it ★★★★★

July 22, 2016

The phrase is Eliot's, from The Waste Land, meaning the evening, end of day. The violet color evokes sadness and in the heavy atmosphere of The Waste Land suggests death. The 48-year old Roiphe has written a book about death and the relationships of 6 writers with it. It's also an impressive work...

Terri rated it ★★★★★

April 17, 2016

I am probably more interested in death than the average person. Some of this interest is because I'm 62 years old, and I think it's natural for my thoughts to turn in this direction. Also, I was a hospice nurse for many years in my 30s and 40s, so I've personally seen a lot of death and its effec...

Monique rated it ★★★★★

January 02, 2018

Dat dit boek over de dood van zes grote schrijvers gaat, betekend niet dat het een zwaar, duister verhaal is. In tegendeel zelfs. Het boek is goed geschreven, inspirerend, intrigerend en het raakt je. Ondanks dat er bijna geen emotie in voorkomt. Het houd je als het ware een spiegel voor: Hoe den...

Carl rated it ★★★★★

March 16, 2016

This book is about more than writers. It is about how we all deal with death. As Susan Sontag's biographer, I found the chapter on her moving and enlightening. Roiphe does not just recycle the work of others. She did her own research, and some of it I have used in my own updated and revised Sonta...

Jill rated it ★★★★☆

February 01, 2016

Death is one of our culture’s last taboos. We just don’t talk about it if we don’t have to. Yet the way we approach our deaths says a lot about who we have been in our lives. In some cases, there is bravery and beauty; in others, cold stoicism; in still others, self-destruction and wantonness. Ka...

Jacqueline rated it ★★★★☆

November 29, 2017

Like many (or perhaps only some) people, I am fascinated by death. And I am a writer. So it was natural for me to be drawn to The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End. Author Katie Roiphe turns her considerable skills to the subject, while trying to work out what she herself believes about her o...

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