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John Cheever: New volumes spotlight his life and work

"I shall not, for example, try to evoke a rhetorical chiaroscuro of an intellect suspended in the twilight of the last divine monarchy, exposed to the philosophies of anarchy, communism and socialism, stricken by a loss of free speech; an intelligence illuminated as often by Paris and London as by Moscow, the flower of the clash between Aristotelian and Marxist thought. I shall not speak of Chekhov in these terms because I think he would not like it." John Cheever's respect for what he assumes would be the wishes of the dead author, from his 1977 essay "The Melancholy of Distance," are more than puckish -- rarely has an important writer suffered such a wide range of...

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