Lament for Julia: And Other Stories

(Author) (Introduction by)
Product Details
$16.95  $15.76
New York Review of Books
Publish Date
5.17 X 8.02 X 0.51 inches | 0.49 pounds

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About the Author
Susan Taubes (1928-1969) was the daughter of a psychoanalyst and the granddaughter of a rabbi. She and her father emigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1939. She attended Bryn Mawr before studying philosophy and religion in Jerusalem, at the Sorbonne, and at Radcliffe, where she wrote her dissertation on Simone Weil. She and her husband, Jacob Taubes, had a son and a daughter. In 1960 she began teaching at Columbia University. She edited volumes of Native American and African folktales; published a dozen short stories; and wrote two novels, Divorcing and Lament for Julia, available and forthcoming as NYRB Classics. Her suicide came shortly after the publication of Divorcing, in November 1969.

Francesca Wade is the author of Square Haunting (2020) and has written for the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and other publications. She is a 2022-23 fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, where she is working on a book about Gertrude Stein.
"The short stories that follow Lament for Julia in this new edition all have a folkloric twist to them. They are preoccupied by the uses and abuses of love and feature tyrannical psychoanalyst fathers who use their knowledge not as a force for liberation and understanding, but to overpower and constrain. Familial and national history press up against one another; fathers and doubles multiply. Taubes's family history reads like a parable - of institutional paternal power run amok - and she uses fiction (which her father regarded as a sickness) to recover a more accommodating kind of faith and way of being in the world." --Jess Cotton, TLS

"'Lament for Julia' devises a feminist metaphysics, or, as the [narrator] puts it with comic incredulity, a portrait of 'the elements of being in a skirt!'...The great accomplishment of 'Lament for Julia' is how imperceptibly it draws the fine filaments of sympathy between the [narrator] and Julia--the anguished control with which consciousness is harnessed to flesh." --Merve Emre, The New Yorker

"[Lament] is a parable, and it has an existential dimension, but it's anything but dry. What makes it powerful--what makes Taubes's whole body of work powerful--isn't the ideas, though you can lose yourself in them, but the affect. Lament's gnosticism channels radical discomfort. The ghost's clammy unease with the flesh-and-blood Julia has the feel of body dysmorphia." --Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic

"To read Taubes is to enter a singular imagination, caught between worlds Old and New, and wandering amid the ruins of belief and belonging that are common to both. It's tempting to consider 'Lament for Julia' as the author's first, very oblique stab at an autobiography, before the more overtly personal 'Divorcing.' But this book is more parody than memoir, reveling in the inevitable divisions and conflicts of selfhood." --Leslie Camihi, The New York Times Book Review

"Taubes has a fierce imagination and perspective. . . . [Her writing] is often very funny, always alive, bursting with ideas, full of formal vitality and change." --Scott Cheshire, The Washington Post

"[Taubes] shapes pain into something intricate and searching." --Leslie Jamison, The New York Review of Books

"Tantalizing and surprising. . . . A dark beauty reigns throughout this worthy collection." --Publishers Weekly