Ordinary Paradise: Essays on Art and Culture

Ordinary Paradise

“While representing the best of human endeavor, works of art have become ordinary features of our lives, familiar and reliably present,” writes Richard Teleky. “They are, however, extraordinary. So extraordinary, in fact, that in themselves they are a kind of paradise.”

In Ordinary Paradise, acclaimed author, critic and editor Richard Teleky considers what it means to be engaged with a variety of artistic forms–literature, music, film and the visual arts–and to celebrate the extraordinary power that creative accomplishment can have on our daily lives.

The essays in Ordinary Paradise challenge conventional wisdom and exemplify a dynamic and lively critical approach, pointing out troubling trends in contemporary appreciation of art and culture. They reveal the rewarding complexities of the demanding art of translation, the nostalgic power of rereading in provoking self-assessment, and the fraught connection between language, silence and identity as they relate to marginalized voices. Teleky immerses himself into ideas of truth, beauty and humanity, and in so doing, provides a compelling exemplar for engaging with contemporary culture and learning the innumerable lessons that artistic accomplishments have to teach us.

 “Richard Teleky’s Ordinary Paradise: Essays on Art and Culture is a deeply satisfying collection about the enriching presence of art, music and literature in our daily lives…Each of the twenty-eight essays expounds upon a cultural topic, probing the backstories of some beguiling artists and their creations. They serendipitously meander through Teleky’s carefully parsed explorations and opinions of how different works of art fit into the context of cultural meaning. Teleky’s passion and enthusiasm are inspiring enticements to read old classics like Madame Bovary and Don Quixote with a fresh perspective, and to seek out lesser known books by Marie-Claire Blais and Margaret Avision…The book begins with diverting essays about literary topics, segues into the visual and performing arts, and concludes with prose that digs into philosophical, but eminently approachable, interdisciplinary examinations of various movements (postmodernism, posthumanism, postheroism) in contemporary western culture…the writing is never plagued with esoteric critic-speak; instead, it is delightfully saucy, heartfelt, and passionate. Teleky’s accessible style and curious mind make him an excellent guide to all of the disparate ideas and artists he describes.”—Rachel Jagareski, Foreword Reviews

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