Critical Mass

Elizabeth Hardwick, 1916-2007


ELIZABETH HARDWICK died today at age 91. The novelist, essayist, founding editor of the New York Review of Books, former NBCC board member, and NBCC winner (in fiction for her beautiful novel, “Sleepless Nights,” and for the Ivan R. Sandrof lifetime achievement award) was an essential voice in American arts & letters for nearly six decades. A terrifically stylish writer on everything from Herman Melville to Mick Jagger, Hardwick was one of the last great links to the era when self-taught, non-academic critics—from Dwight MacDonald to Susan Sontag—wrote trenchantly and well enough to make being a generalist a kind of higher calling.