Artful (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Part contemporary ghost story, part academic treatise, Artful sparkles with allusion and crackles with wit and brilliance. The narrator, an arborist, is visited by her dead lover, a writer, academic and author of a series of lectures on art and literature. A compilation of the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature given by Smith at St. Anne's College, Oxford in February, 2012, Artful is a set of discursive stories, a commentary on love, loss and connection - to put it briefly - by a dazzling wordsmith. What Ali Smith does with language will inspire you to explore philosophy, poetry and literature with renewed exuberance. — Amy Palmer

Artful by Ali Smith is a creative work of Literary criticism dressed eloquently and rendered as fiction. The premise is a widow reclaiming her space within her head as well as her home is haunted by the passive aggressive ghost of her scholarly husband; resulting in marvelous diatribes and dialogues of nature, art and literature. — Maeve Noonan


Ali Smith melds the tale and the essay into a magical hybrid form, a song of praise to the power of stories in our lives

In February 2012, the novelist Ali Smith delivered the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Her lectures took the shape of this set of discursive stories. Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted—literally—by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature.
    A hypnotic dialogue unfolds, a duet between and a meditation on art and storytelling, a book about love, grief, memory, and revitalization. Smith’s heady powers as a fiction writer harmonize with her keen perceptions as a reader and critic to form a living thing that reminds us that life and art are never separate.
   Artful is a book about the things art can do, the things art is full of, and the quicksilver nature of all artfulness. It glances off artists and writers from Michelangelo through Dickens, then all the way past postmodernity, exploring every form, from ancient cave painting to 1960s cinema musicals. This kaleidoscope opens up new, inventive, elastic insights—on the relation of aesthetic form to the human mind, the ways we build our minds from stories, the bridges art builds between us. Artful is a celebration of literature’s worth in and to the world and a meaningful contribution to that worth in itself. There has never been a book quite like it.

About the Author

ALI SMITH is the author of many works of fiction, including, most recently, Companion Piece, the "Seasonal Quartet," Public library and other stories, and How to be Both, which won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the Costa Novel of the Year Award. Her work has four times been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Most recently, she won the George Orwell Prize for Fiction for Summer. Born in Inverness, Scotland, she lives in Cambridge, England.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593687581
ISBN-10: 0593687582
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English