In Fame & Folly: Essays (1996), her fourth collection of essays, Cynthia Ozick chronicles other writers' disappointments, their early success, and in some cases, the mistakes that have cost them their fame. She is interested in what divides a major writer from a minor one, in why one writer's work fades into oblivion and another's thrives. It is a small wonder that she titled the volume as she did. Writing about Fame & Folly in 1996, James Wood described it this way: “Her essays invent language, for one thing, and this language—busy, rhapsodic, willful—is congruous with the language of her fiction” (p. 92). Such a description of Ozick's work is not difficult to understand, for the breadth of Ozick's subjects become as universal as they are inclusive; she does not confine herself to the special, the parochial, or the limited—all characteristics, as her searching essays suggest, of minor writers. The radiance of her language and the universality of the subjects that obsess her have ushered Cynthia Ozick into the forefront of American letters, where the numerous prizes and awards she has won testify to her status as a major American writer.Less
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