Still Life & Matisse

Blue Arabesque
A Search for the Sublime
Patricia Hampl
Harcourt, $22, 224 pp.

Great paradoxes are those that stop, startle, and gain intuitive acceptance well before essential understanding. Take, for instance, the maxim that “the first principle of all action is leisure.” It is something W. C. Fields might have said as easily as Aristotle, the kind of line you take in with a wry smile when you see it in the newspaper or on a sign at your neighborhood pub. But a society already manic over its own amusements can easily miss the point—one that has...

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About the Author

A. G. Harmon teaches at the Catholic University of America. His A House All Stilled (UT Press) won the Peter Taylor Prize for the novel in 2001.

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