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Award-winning novelist and critic Andre Alexis explores worlds with names such as Henry James, Maupassant, and Kawabata, trying, like any traveller, to faithfully convey what he sees and feels in those places while giving a convincing portrait of himself. At the same time, Beauty and Sadness is an autobiography. Alexis's intent is to give a sense of what it is like to live ecstatically through literature -- what it is like to read Tolstoy and feel that The Death of Ivan Ilych, for instance, is connected to the land of his birth, Trinidad, as intimately as it is to his home, Canada.

In the final piece of the book, entitled "Water", Alexis gives the reader an intimate sense of what it has been like to live as a writer these last twenty years while practicing an art form (fiction/literature) that he contends is in decline. In the author's own words: Beauty and sadness is where world and words meet.

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