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Sunday February 26, 2017
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Lastingness

 

continued

publicist, part teacher, and most important, part artist. Despite all his other duties, Delbanco has taken himself to his writing desk each morning, and the result has been impressive. In the list of publications at the beginning of his latest book--Lastingness: The Art of Old Age--there are eighteen novels, six books of nonfiction, and another nine edited volumes. It is a list that would take any writer a few decades to compile.

And those decades provide the case and the motivation for this book. Delbanco admits it early on: "This book is about the tribal elders in the world of art. What interests me is lastingness: how it may be attained. For obvious reasons, this has become a personal matter; I published my first novel in 1966 and very much hope to continue." Much of the book comprises thumbnail studies of artists in different media and genres who have accomplished major work after the age of sixty. Some are studied in depth, some merely mentioned--Eubie Blake, Sophocles, Hardy, Monet, Haydn, Matisse, Henry Moore, Pablo Casals, Yeats, Picasso (with the recognition that he is likely sui generis), Georgia O'Keeffe, Tolstoy, and the list goes on.

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