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Daniel Mendelsohn: The Elusive Embrace

Daniel Mendelsohn: The Elusive Embrace

Desire and the Riddle of Identity. USA 1999, 209 pp., brochure,  19.95
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Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, »The Elusive Embrace« is an exploration of the mysteries of identity. It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the »rich conflictedness of things«, the double lives all of us lead. Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather, the streets of Manhattan's newest »gay ghetto«, where »desire for love« competes with »love of desire«, and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood. And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self.