West's letters are so fascinating that even a sampling is bound to give some idea of her intellect, wit, passions and robust opinions. Whether she is elucidating her stand on McCarthyism, expressing her disgust at fellow writers or asserting Dostoevsky's superiority to Tolstoy, there is no mistaking that magisterial yet iconoclastic voice. . . . Over the years, West expressed some wildly divergent feelings about her son by H. G. Wells, her increasingly eccentric banker-husband and her accomplished but domineering oldest sister. Ms. Scott's selection of letters dealing with these relationships achieves a fine balance. We are led to recognize the love . . . that underlay the irritation, and at times the fury, that she all too often felt the need to vent.
Wall Street Journal
The more than 200 letters from The Selected Letters of Rebecca West, culled from the 10,000 West wrote in her ninety years, flash and sizzle with combative energy whether West is refuting a critic, fending off an unwanted lover, or unabashedly speaking her mind.
A handsome collection. . . . Scott has done well to continue the work done by an earlier generation of feminists towards the restoration of Rebecca West to a place of honor among the writers of the twentieth century.
Selected Letters of Rebecca West, this new volume offers to hear West's voice...witty, arch, wise, acerbic and graceful. She was one of the great masters of the English prose sentence, and her letters are filled with the incisive, beautifully cadenced, and frequently hilarious descriptions of characters and places that give her work such resonance and power. Lingua Franca
The eclectic, energetic correspondence of Dame West (1892-1983) begins here with the 14-year-old West, born Cicily Fairfield, writing precociously on women's suffrage to the editor of the Scotsman. It finishes, after one of the longest, most active careers in English letters, in 1982, with West's descriptive powers still vital. West's dual career as novelist and journalist pays a dividend in her vivid depictions of her travels, notably to the U.S. and pre-WWII Yugoslavia. The drama of the historic events of which she writes--the Nuremberg trials, the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa ("we were... simultaneously afraid of an outbreak of the Africans in the townships and of arrest by the Government"), the obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover ("the reasons for the jury's decision were manifest in the Judge's vile temper")--is matched by the richness of her address book. Her correspondents include Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Harold Ross, Lionel Trilling and Emma Goldman. Unfortunately for the paper trail of her notorious romance with H.G. Wells, Wells and West's son, Anthony, destroyed some personal letters, particularly from the earliest period of their relationship. Combing assorted archives, editor Scott, a professor of English at the University of Delaware, has tracked down later ones, from slightly embarrassing pet name exchanges ("Dearest Jaguar"/"Your loving Panther") to bitter disputes over child custody and finances. West's other relationships could be equally complicated, and she had hoped to keep her private and literary lives separate--but Scott diligently reintegrates them here, well representing the same brilliant, awkward chaos with which she lived. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dame Rebecca West (1892-1983)--novelist, journalist, essayist, literary critic, travel writer, and political writer--wrote with vigor throughout her 90 years. In addition to these genres, West wrote several letters a day, an estimated 10,000 in her lifetime. Of those surviving, Scott (English, Univ. of Delaware) selected over 200 from family and library collections in the United States and Great Britain for this volume. Arranged chronologically, the letters reflect West's personality, political concerns (e.g., suffrage, communism, fascism, Fabian socialism, apartheid, and Cold War espionage), love affair with H.G. Wells, literary opinions and interpretations of contemporaries (e.g., George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Emma Goldman, and Fanny Hurst), travels, and concerns with biographical works written by her son, Anthony West; Victoria Glendinning; and Gordon Ray. Scott provides succinct, informative introductions to each section of letters. This well-edited volume will help contribute to scholarship on West. Recommended for academic libraries.--Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
[A] majestic volume of her letters . . . [Her]
correspondence grows more compelling once
she leaves behind those crucial formative years.
. . . [T]hese letters back up West's complaint
that her literary reputation never quite rose to
the level she deserved.
The New York Times Book Review
It really is about time we had the letters of Rebecca West. And this plump selection, sumptuously produces and plushly upholstered with Bonnie Scott's introduction and notes, is a first edition of which Dame Rebecca would, I think, have been proud.
Brilliant, funny, vulnerable, combative: the bulk of these splendid letters find West trying to set one record or another straight...