Dualistic energies ripple throughout Ozick’s writing. Her attraction to good and evil, light and dark, the agonistic and the operatic, the Zarathustrian and the Wagnerian, is undeniable. This article focuses on the literary dimensions of her nonfiction to shed light on her essays’ mysterious powers. By eschewing the habitual liturgical framing of Ozick’s works for a literary one, this article anatomizes her methods to reveal the precursor form that subtends her essayistic style—melodrama. Ozick’s melodrama intervenes in her nonfiction writing like a ghostly haunting from her fiction. It patterns her thought, like a figure in the carpet. This article argues that melodrama is a central characteristic of her work. By positioning Ozick in relation to a longer history of melodrama and the novel in which Henry James is a key figure, the article argues that her employment of melodramatic methods in her nonfiction can be understood as a plea for (i) the legitimization of imagination and (ii) the urgency of the literary arts and their methods.

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