Trifles Make Perfection: The Selected Essays of Joseph Wechsberg

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David R. Godine Publisher, 1999 - 289 من الصفحات
A Moravian By Birth, a musician by avocation, a writer by choice, and a bon vivant almost by instinct, Wechsberg was set squarely among a generation of mid-century writers that included A. J. Liebling, M. F. K. Fisher, Waverly Root, and Ludwig Bemelmans. Many of them found a home at the New Yorker and were routinely provided carte blanche to tackle any subject they found interesting.

For Wechsberg, this meant the cultural life of the civilized world, which included music, food (especially classic French food, as prepared by such great chefs as Henri Soul and Fernand Point), travel, and the history of banking and finance. Always central to these essays were people of acknowledged accomplishments, whose lives he tried to understand both in the contexts of their own personality and of the cultures that shaped them.

Wechsberg was a connoisseur in the old European sense of the word, a man who valued perfection for its own sake, and who saw its quest as both worthy and attainable. His vision was pervaded and shaped by an acute sense of history and a relentless curiosity. Born in 1906 into a wealthy, assimilated Jewish family, he was raised in Austria, but saw his comfortable life threatened, and then extinguished, by Hitler's annexation of his native Czechoslovakia. He came to America with only a basic command of English but an impressive command of what was happening in Europe. His most powerful essays, describing the tragic fragmentation of Europe at the end of World War II, are never strident or bitter and only slightly ironic.

Reading Wechsberg is like fine dining; the food is exquisite, the choice of wine perfect, the presentation flawless, and one leaves the experience feelingnot bloated and savaged, but warmed and content. This generous, representative selection of his very best is sure to satisfy any civilized palate.


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The Ambassador in the Sanctuary
The Nonconformist
Toccata and Fugue
The Bois de Boulogne
Londons Savoy Hotel and Others
A Question of Reverberation
The Budapest String Quartet
Ne Plus Ultra
The Finest Butter and Lots of Time
Afternoon at the Château dYquem
My Fathers Cuff Links
The Children of Lidice
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حول المؤلف (1999)

Wechsberg worked as a lawyer, concert violinist, cameraman, malt salesman and newspaper reporter, but he was always an epicure. His stories ran in the New Yorker from 1949 to 1975. He died in Vienna in 1983.

Morowitz is a practicing physician in Washington, D.C., in addition to being a part-time photographer and writer.

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