The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity

The Elusive Embrace Desire and the Riddle of Identity Hailed for its searing emotional insights and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history cultural essay and readings of classical texts by Sophocles Ovid Eurip

  • Title: The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity
  • Author: Daniel Mendelsohn
  • ISBN: 9780375706974
  • Page: 413
  • Format: Paperback
  • Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investiHailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the rich conflictedness of things, the double lives all of us lead.Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father s pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather the streets of manhattan s newest gay ghetto, where desire for love competes with love of desire and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend s small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self The book that Hilton Als calls equal to Whitman s Song of Myself, The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut.

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    • Daniel Mendelsohn

      Daniel Mendelsohn Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity book, this is one of the most wanted Daniel Mendelsohn author readers around the world.

    311 thoughts on “The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity

    • Very well written and unique in its perspective. I loved discovering Chelsea in NYC during the late 80s and early 90s through his astute eye and how he used geography, personal history, mythology (which he is obviously passionate about and fluent in latin and greek) and paternity to examine our dualities and the intersections of identity--gender, cultural, and sexual. But it was missing vulnerability.


    • Okay, he's my friend, but even if he weren't I would be blown away by the originality, the creativity, the verve of this book.


    • Desire and the Riddle of Identity is the subtitle for this book.How can we both desire love and still love to be the object of desire? "Identity, the Greeks knew, is a paradox," says Daniel Mendelsohn at the end of Geographies, the first chapter of The Elusive Embrace; the next four chapters - Multiplicities, Paternities, Mythologies, and Identities - elaborate this paradox, not to solve it, but to parse out the strands that make him who he is, follow them along their sources, and speculate to t [...]


    • This book was published before The Lost, and I think it shows. The Riddle of Identity has a similar style (addressing different aspects of the issue through the lens of academic commentary) and it covers a lot of the same areas of Mendelsohn's family history, but in both senses, it feels less cohesive and less compelling. The first explanation of the μεν, δε dilemma is something any student of Ancient Greek will appreciate, and his commentary on ancient texts is readable and accessible to a [...]


    • Effortlessly masterful, Mendelsohn weaves his expertise as a classical scholar into his Jewish heritage to narrate his experience of "identity"--as a son, as a godfather, as a gay man "just outside" Chelsea. The result is a meditation on the nuances and messiness of "identity"--and hence the silliness of identity politics--that, quite apart from Mendelsohn's intentions, has a lot to teach religious communities in a secular age.



    • Nearly twenty years after its original publication, this unique book continues to defy classification. Part memoir, part family history, part socio-cultural critique—The Elusive Embrace resonates as a late 20th-century/early 21st-century chronicle of the ambivalent lives that many gay men lead.As a Classics scholar, Mendelsohn informs his observations of contemporary life with relevant analogues from Greek language and drama. Using the Greek construction of “men” and “de” (i.e “On th [...]


    • An enjoyable, insightful and enlightening memoir. The author's journalistic style seems to be a dogged pursuit of the truth - I think this works a little better when the object of investigation is his murdered relatives (The Lost) or his father (An Odyssey), than when it's himself.


    • How does one resolve the mystery of his own identity? Can one understand the rest of the world if he does not know himself first? These questions and more form the themes of this rare if not unique memoir. Daniel Mendelsohn shares his own personal history through essays on the ways that he, and by reference we, defines himself. The geographies, paternities, mythologies and what he calls multiplicities lead him to a summary section that discusses identities. Concluding at the end of his musings t [...]


    • On my nightstand I have a collection of books that I am slowly wading through. As I order my nighttime reading from the local library it means that sometimes I have little to read and at others too much. I just finished reading Daniel Mendelson's The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1999). The book is a fascinating although often odd memoir about Mendelsohn's exploration of homosexual desire interwoven with classical myths that are part of his training as [...]


    • The Elusive Embrace is not Mendelsohn's strongest work, but that is as it should be, since he seems at the time of publication to be still finding his voice as a writer. I suspect the award garnering has more to do with the writer's frankness with regard to his subject than the merits of the writing. The speaker does not begin with a thesis he uses experience to prove, but, rather, explores experience - a perceived duality of nature and sense of specialness - to uncover a thesis - a genuine expl [...]


    • This was Mendelsohn's literary debut and he was already a master in connecting personal stuff –in this case about his childhood and homosexuality, general reflections on desire and identity and a study on the classics. His memories are touching but not as powerful as the way he re-visits the past inThe Lost; his cruising New York streets in quest of "boys" he could play with isn't the most interesting side of the book though; his take on male desire, or rather on homosexual desire is insightfu [...]


    • This is one of my favorites of DM's books. Much is revealed about the personal odyssey of the writer in relation to desire, but the revelations never feel sensational or gratuitous. The memoirist has to ask hard questions about intimate truths and what one hides, not only from others, but from oneself. As Mendelsohn explores the secrets he kept, the avid scholar he became, the people who helped him become a fuller, richer self, the word "risk" kept coming to me. He risks much here, and in doing [...]


    • As a woman reader, I occasionally felt pretty alienated from Mendelsohn's discussion of the gay male experience, despite being queer myself. Still, the writing itself is quite beautiful and stunning, and the way he weaves together personal narrative with mythology and philosophy is really breathtaking.





    • "This is the place where I decided to live, the place of paradox and hybrids. The place that, in the moment of choosing it, taught me that wherever I am is the wrong place for half of me."


    • Though this book has a lot of great content and philosophy, it is also oddly organized and tends to lag in places.


    • An absolutely stunning and highly surprising read. Part memoir, part study of the Classics, and mostly about being a gay American in the 21st century.


    • I was hoping for more memoir about his family and less essay about his love- life. Disappointing after The Lost.


    • Quite beautifully woven. These are grand subjects i thought I'd outgrown: in fact, I've merely been crossing a mesa, and a gentle descent awaits.


    • Daniel Mendelsohn has (or had) a lot of sex with anonymous men. Also, he likes the classics. Also, he writes well, intelligently but not super-pretentiously.


    • I wish Daniel Mendelsohn hadn't published this book. It was too personal and should have been kept private.



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