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Glenway Wescott (1901–1987)

Author of The Pilgrim Hawk

20+ Works 996 Members 23 Reviews

About the Author

Works by Glenway Wescott

Associated Works

The Crack-Up (1945) — Contributor — 901 copies
Six Great Modern Short Novels (1954) — Contributor — 273 copies
The Maugham Reader (1950) — Introduction, some editions — 105 copies
Short Novels of Colette: Six Complete Novels (1951) — Introduction — 97 copies
Four Lives in Paris (1991) — Foreword — 51 copies
The World of Somerset Maugham (1959) — Contributor — 7 copies


1920s (11) 20th century (45) American (44) American fiction (12) American literature (74) anthology (29) autobiography (14) biography (19) classics (10) correspondence (10) diary (12) essays (60) F. Scott Fitzgerald (15) fiction (266) Fitzgerald (13) France (11) gay (19) Greece (16) jazz age (10) journal (12) letters (24) literary criticism (10) literature (74) lost generation (10) memoir (39) modernism (11) non-fiction (26) novel (54) novella (13) NYRB (54) NYRB Classics (27) own (14) read (12) short stories (64) signed (10) to-read (128) unread (17) US literature (10) USA (19) WWII (25)

Common Knowledge



Unbelievable. I've had my eye on this for a long time, but I was a little skeptical of the (relative) hype surrounding the content. The title story was written in 1938 and suppressed by Wescott himself as unpublishable. It is written in a verbose, confessional style and Wescott, like so many others even today, had trouble finding adequate words to describe sex itself and even the well-endowed "Priapus" his alter-ego Alwyn Tower hooks up with. That story, however remarkable, is underwhelming, but the rest of the collection will not disappoint.

Wescott was a gifted writer and all of the stories and essays collected here touch on his experiences as a queer youth, his early career and his thoughts on the world. I've always thought it a shame that though he lived into the late '80s he was unable to produce any longform fiction after World War II. THis collection adds some welcome material to his catalog.
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ManWithAnAgenda | Sep 12, 2022 |
This novella involves a family argument about child care and coasts over deeper, unexpressed emotions. A man, returning home from a literary career on the East coast shares an awkward family dinner with his sister, her family and his parents as they listen to the cries of the baby in the other room. They are trying to get the baby to sleep on its own and the experiment doesn't go over well with everybody.

This is Wescott, so of course this is only the tip of the iceberg.

This story of family dynamics and what it costs to return home is so relevant today. Wescott can often be difficult, with his meandering sentences and digressions, but I was pulled right in. This was published as a limited edition in the early thirries, but is more easily available in the posthumous 'A Visit to Priapus' collection.… (more)
ManWithAnAgenda | Sep 12, 2022 |
laplantelibrary | 1 other review | Apr 26, 2022 |
I found my copy of this some time ago, but have held off reading it because of its rather bleak reputation. According to the author's biographer Jerry Rosco the book was based on the author's experiences and reflections during a road trip with friends through Germany some time before 1932. The book sold poorly and Rosco couldn't help but quote Ernest Hemingway's scathing comment in a letter to Dos Passos in April 1932 that derided Wescott's sudden feelings about Europe: "Glenway Wescott, this is no kidding, is issuing a Call To Action. He feels things are in A BAD WAY. To be published in May [Fear and Trembling]."

I began the book at the start of a long vacation determined to do it justice. At first, the ornate prose won me over and I prepared for a description of central Europe on the brink of war. It goes off the rails, unfortunately, rambling and failing to impress the reader with much more than utter confusion. Germany is beautiful. It's people are quite nice, actually, truly harmless, but there's something afoot in the government. Wescott fails to make any declarative statement and, shockingly, does not show any real comprehension of what's going on in the country or the world. I wasn't expecting anything too prescient, but I was expecting SOMETHING. This is shocking because of Wescott's depth of insight into human character that is apparent in his novels. When he puts his lens towards the broader picture, he fails to focus, but not for lack of effort. An online search found a contemporary piece in the New York Times that headlines that Glenway Wescott has written "a Highly Personal Statement of Personal Bewilderment."

'Fear and Trembling' is a long and messy failure. I could have pulled a few gems from these pages to quote, but it felt like bad faith to future readers, if any there will be. Glenway writes about the problems of the modern condition on the psyche, of the benefits and dehumanising effects of advancing technology, of an untrained populace left behind in the wake of industry, and a general malaise affecting the countryside. These observations could have been teased into something. Yet, he doesn't seem to have anything to say about the issue except that it is, perhaps, maybe, an issue. He's far more comfortable talking about natural surroundings and material culture, but his ambitions wouldn't let him merely write about that.

Wescott's novels and stories deserve rememberance, but 'Fear and Trembling' is simply a footnote.
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ManWithAnAgenda | Oct 21, 2021 |



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