What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World

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Renowned for his magisterial verse, Robert Hass is also a brilliant essayist. The New York Times hailed him as a writer who is so intelligent that to read his poetry or prose, or to hear him speak, gives one an almost visceral pleasure. Now, with What Light Can Do, Hass' first collection of essays in more than twenty-five years, the lauded author returns to and enlarges the territory of his critically acclaimed and much-loved collection Twentieth Century Pleasures, recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award. These acute and deeply engaging essays are as much a portrait of the elegant thought processes of an unconventional and virtuoso mind as they are inquiries into their subjects, which range from meditations on how we see and treat the earth to the relationship between literature and religion, from explorations of the works of writers as diverse as Korean poet Ko Un, Wallace Stevens, Cormac McCarthy, and Anton Chekhov to the ways in which photography - much like an essay-embodies a sustained act of attention. A perceptive and evocative mixture of memory, philosophical interrogation, and criticism, the essays in What Light Can Do, finely attuned to the pleasures and pains of being human, are always grounded in the beauty of the material world and its details, and in the larger political and social realities we inhabit.