ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Rocket and Lightship by Adam Kirsch


rocket and lightship


Rocket and Lightship by Adam Kirsch

In these brilliant, wide-ranging essays, published over the last eight years in the New Republic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, Kirsch shows how literature can illuminate questions of meaning, ethics, and politics, and how those questions shape the way we take pleasure in art. In Rocket and Lightship he examines the work and life of writers past and present, from intellectuals Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, and Walter Benjamin to novelists including E. M. Forster, David Foster Wallace, and Zadie Smith. Kirsch quotes G. M. Hopkins: “Nor rescue, only rocket and lightship, shone.” So shines literature, in these unflinchingly bold and provocative essays—as an illuminating, regenerative, and immortalizing force.



“It is fashionable today to mourn the paucity of public intellectuals in America. Meet Adam Kirsch, one of the very best literary/cultural critics writing today—a critic in the grand tradition of Edmund Wilson or Lionel Trilling. Rocket and Lightship is a delight to read.” — Marjorie Perloff

“[Kirsch’s] rare literary authority is on full display…It’s a pleasure to be convoyed through Western literature by Kirsch, whose self-assuredness feels more like intellectual comfort than it does coercion.” — Alice Gregory, New York Times Book Review

“Adam Kirsch is one of the best of our cultural and literary critics. Whether he is dispatching the repellent ideology of Slavoj Zizek or reappraising the literary legacy of E. M. Forster, he writes with stunning force and beautiful lucidity.” — Janet Malcolm


Publisher Information

  • W. W. Norton & Company
  • Hardcover
  • November 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-393-24346-8
  • $26.95



KIRSCHAdam Kirsch is the author of two collections of poems and several books of poetry criticism. A senior editor at the New Republic and a columnist for Tablet, he also writes for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

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Eckleburg is a print and online literary journal that offers original fiction, poetry, essays, music, art, writing workshops and more.