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The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews by…
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The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews (1928)

by Rebecca West

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From the back cover: "This distinguished collection of essays, first published in 1928, constitutes a summary of Rebecca West's thinking about literature. In the later essays, many of which were culled from the series she wrote for the New York Herald Tribune between 1926 and 1932, she takes on Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis and Sherwood Anderson and, in her famous 'jolly Uncles' piece, responds hilariously to Virginia Woolf's criticisms of Wells, Galsworthy, Shaw and Bennett. Challenging, original and written with the conviction that 'this strange necessity, art, is as essential as life', this fine volume illuminates the many moods of a highly gifted and complex woman, one of the most formidable observers--and debunkers--of our time. The Strange Necessity and Virginia Woolf's The Common Reader were heralded by Hugh Walpole as 'the two finest volumes of literary criticism by women in the English language'. "
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West’s intellectually challenging collection of essays—now available as an ebook In this collection of literary criticism, West undertakes the question of art’s value, examining the works of her contemporaries and their places in history “The Strange Necessity,” one of the twelve essays collected here and first published in 1928, anchors West’s quest to understand why art matters and how aesthetics of every caliber can not only inspire but reveal the author’s inner world. Whether juxtaposing Ulysses’s prose with Pavlov’s research, or comparing Sinclair Lewis with actress and pianist Yvonne Printemps, West finds that a satisfying emotion overrides an artistic work’s form. Her intricately crafted essays reveal her experience in the literary circles of the twenties and thirties and the important role this question played in her own writing. West’s keenly observed criticism offers invaluable insight not only into her work but into her impressions of early twentieth century literature.… (more)

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