Books by Daniel Mendelsohn

Daniel Mendelsohn, an award-winning author, journalist, and critic, was born on Long Island in 1960 and received his B. A. summa cum laude in Classics from the University of Virginia and his M. A. and Ph. D. in Classics from Princeton University, where he


ECSTASY AND TERROR by Daniel Mendelsohn
NONFICTION
Released: Oct. 8, 2019

"One fascinating essay after another from one of America's best critics."
Erudite essays on classical and contemporary culture. Read full book review >
AN ODYSSEY by Daniel Mendelsohn
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

"A well-told story that underscores the power of storytelling."
An account of the lessons learned by a son and his father as they study the Greek epic together. Read full book review >
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Oct. 16, 2012

"Incisive, reflective and unfailingly stimulating. It wouldn't hurt Mendelsohn to occasionally pass up an opportunity to remind readers he's the smartest guy in the room, but then again, he almost always is."
Another top-notch collection of previously published criticism from Mendelsohn (How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, 2008, etc.). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Aug. 12, 2008

"Like fine banquet fare: Some items to be wolfed down, some savored slowly, some best stored in the fridge for a later day."
Erudite, occasionally curmudgeonly collection of reviews and ruminations by award-winning memoirist Mendelsohn (The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 19, 2006

"A forceful meditation touching on loss, memory, Jewishness and the vagaries of chance in human life."
An American Jew undertakes a quest to find out what happened to six of his own relatives who died in the Holocaust. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1999

Mendelsohn's first book is a clever attempt to look at gay identity and family mythology through literary narratives of antiquity. A classics scholar who for years has been grappling with issues such as gay culture and the homosexual psyche, Mendelsohn finds a natural connection between the "pagan culture" and "pagan acts." He discovers in the Greek mentality and Greek language a tendency to bipolar thinking, whereby any articulated idea invites its opposite. Such, claims Mendelsohn, is the gay identity, which hovers between the extremes of the straight world into which every gay man is born and the gay world that he eventually chooses to inhabit. In Ovid, the myth of the nymph Echo illustrates how difference can be mistaken for sameness; it is supplemented by the myth of Narcissus, who, on the contrary, mistook his own face (sameness) for a stranger's (difference). This ancient paradigm is reflected in the gay male perception of men and women. While for gays the female world signifies difference, other men signal sameness. Tracing the etymology of the word "identity" to the Latin adverb identidem ("repeatedly"), Mendelsohn defines the gay identity as an infinitely repeated desire for other men. Analyzing Sappho's love poem about the frustration of seeing the erotic object pursued by someone else, the author reflects on similar painful episodes in his own love life. Euripides' fatherhood tragedy Ion provides for Mendelsohn a framework for his own experiences as the godfather of a friend's child. Here two extremes coalesce again, as he is driven both by his inherent fear of commitment to family life and by his enjoyment of this pseudofatherhood and the accompanying routine. Finally, Sophocles'Antigone presents the author with an archetypal myth of beauty and loss, which he sees reflected in his family's myth of a great-aunt's death. Despite Mendelsohn's disturbingly excessive descriptions of his numerous one-night stands, his insights into the mechanisms of gay culture are interesting. Read full book review >