Genius is one of the those words upon which the world has agreed to form no clear consensus, Joseph Epstein tells us in his introduction to Literary Genius. How then shall we define literary genius? In this collection, twenty-five contemporary authors endeavour to answer that question by considering twenty-five classic writers and their enduring works. We learn that, more important than mere originality or creativity, it is the ability to make us experience the world in new ways that sets these writers apart. My task, Joseph Conrad wrote, is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel - it's above all to make you see. That - and no more, and it is everything. This book also includes wood-engraved portraits and illustrations by the renowned artist Barry Moser, which accompany each essay.
Joseph Epstein is the author of nineteen books. For more than twenty years he was editor of the American Scholar. A contributor to the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Times Literary Supplement and other magazines, he also taught for many years in the English Department at Northwestern University.