Distant Intimacy

A Friendship in the Age of the Internet

By Frederic Raphael; Joseph Epstein
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300186949, 335pp.)

Publication Date: May 2013

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Description

This delightful book of writer-to-writer correspondence joins a full shelf of volumes in the genre, yet it is perhaps the first set of such letters evertransacted via theInternet. Also unusual, at least for correspondents in the twenty-first century, is that Frederic Raphael and Joseph Epstein have never met, nor even spoken to each other. But what is most rare about this book is the authors' abundant talent for entertaining their readers, as much when the topic is grave as when it is droll.

Raphael and Epstein agree to embark on a year-long correspondence, but other rules are few. As the weeks progress, their friendship grows, and each inspires the other. Almost any topic, large or small, is considered: they write of schooling, parents, wives, children, literary tastes, enmities, delights, and beliefs. They discuss their professional lives as writers, their skills or want of them, respective experiences with editors, producers, and actors, and, in priceless passages scattered throughout the letters, they assess such celebrated figures as Gore Vidal, Christopher Hitchens, Susan Sontag, Annie Leibowitz, Malcolm Gladwell, Harold Bloom, George Steiner, Harold Pinter, Isaiah Berlin, George Weidenfeld, and Robert Gottlieb, among many others. Epstein and Raphael capture a year in their letters, but more, they invite us into an intimate world where literature, cinema, and art are keys to self-discovery and friendship.




About the Author
Frederic Raphael was born on August 14th 1931 in Chicago, and emigrated to England with his parents in 1938. He was educated at independent schools in Sussex and Surrey, before studying at St John's College, Cambridge. His career spans work as a screenwriter and a prolific novelist and journalist.In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the 1965 movie "Darling", and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for "Two for the Road". He collaborated on the screenplay of Stanley Kubrick's last film "Eyes Wide Shut", and wrote a controversial memoir of their time together, "Eyes Wide Open "in 1999.

Joseph Epstein has been the editor of the American Scholar since 1975. His own books of essays include The Middle of My Tether, Once More Around the Block, A Line Out for a Walk, Pertinent Players, and With My Trousers Rolled (all published by Norton). He was guest editor for Best American Essays (1993) and teaches at Northwestern University. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
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