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Volume editor William Maxwell
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Vintage Publishing, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Published: 30th Sep 1982
Dimensions: w 160mm h 250mm
Weight: 651g
ISBN-10: 0701126035
ISBN-13: 9780701126032
Barcode No: 9780701126032

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Kirkus US
Immaculately edited and introduced by Warner's editor/friend, novelist Maxwell: a shrewd selection of correspondence (1921-1978) from the English novelist/poet/biographer who died in 1978 - after a career that included four decades of stories (144 of them) in The New Yorker. The letters here are written to a very few people-including David Garnett, Llwelyn Powys, Marchette Chute, and Maxwell. They offer news on travel, friends, projects, or domestic matters involving Warner and her lifelong female companion Valentine Ackland. But very often, propelled by her critical intelligence (and what Maxwell calls the "left-over energy" of creation), these letters melt - opening from gate-posts of fact into gardens of verbal, intellectual play: "The curiosity to find out what I think about adverse circumstances carries me through them." There are political comments - from the Spanish Civil War (Warner and Valentine briefly joined the Party) to WW II ("This kind of war is essentially a middle-aged pursuit") to condemnations of crippling religions, government institutions: "It is systems I hate. . . once they are found to work, [they] trap people into fear, idiocy and cruelty." There are views of artists and works: Gide's "characters have no character"; Chekhov has an "easy-going desolation" when performed by the Moscow Art Theater; artistic integrity, for Warner, is a moral imperative - "to fill the sentence in the right direction, to fill a form, hot merely pages. . . ." There are rich, funny, searingly pertinent evocations of morally iffy personalities. Yet, above all, the joy of these letters lies in the perfectly sounded experience: trees, "their enormous foreheads pressed to the panes"; Norfolk dwellers who "talk in snarling, rasping voices like foxes barking"; an English wartime night, "oddly veined with death." Throughout, in fact, her experiences glisten, in Maxwell's words, like "a play of fountains" - and this is marvelously lavish water-music from a stylist of both the senses' and the soul's indigenous diction. (Kirkus Reviews)