Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life
  • Author: Blondel, Nathalie
  • Binding: Clothbound
  • Pages: 600
  • Size: 6-1/4 x 9-1/4"
  • Pub. Year: 1998
  • ISBN: 0-929701-55-0
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $35.00
A distinctive and original voice within the Modernist movement,the English novelist Mary Butts was a prodigy of style, learning and energy, who wrote with powerful insight about the Lost Generation. At the time of her premature death in 1937 her novels and stories had gained a formidable reputation, and were compared with Katherine Mansfield, D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot. Her career was championed by Ezra Pound, Robert McAlmon, Ford Madox Ford, Charles Williams, and May Sinclair.
Her notorious lifestyle in London and France in the 1920s--smoking opium with Jean Cocteau, studying magic with Aleister Crowley, or throwing parties for Evelyn Waugh and Paul Robeson--overshadowed the importance of her work. The last decade, however, has seen a resurgence of interest in Mary Butts the writer, and her work has joined that of her contemporaries H.D., Djuna Barnes, and Mina Loy, for its centrality to literary Modernism. Since 1991, McPherson & Company has issued four uniform volumes of her writings (with more to come), a volume of critical essays, and now the first biography of this great lost Modernist.
Nathalie Blondel's superb biography will permanently alter the literary history of Modernism. It traces Mary Butts from her aristocratic childhood in Dorset, to her work campaigning for civil liberties in London during the First World War, on to her decadent period in France during the 1920s, and finally to her astonishingly productive last years in the west of Cornwall. Her important relationships are fully detailed, including her marriages, her close friendships with Ford Madox Ford, Jean Cocteau and Virgil Thomson, and her love affairs with Mireille Havet and Cecil Maitland. Her friends, enemies, and lovers (Eliot, Pound, H.D., Douglas Goldring, Wyndham Lewis, Roger Fry, E.M. Forster, Alec Waugh, Gertrude Stein, Elsa Lanchester, Quentin Bell, and many more) are allowed as far as possible to tell the story in their own words. This biography features many previously unpublished letters, photographs, passages of diaries and poems; and makes extensive use of Mary Butts's own remarkable journal, kept for the last 20 years of her life.

"Mary Butts (1890-1937), an English short story writer, novelist, poet, and essayist, was well known and respected among the British literati in the 1920s and 1930s yet remained largely unknown in the United States. Following her early death, her writings fell further into obscurity, but recently the publisher undertook an ongoing project to republish Butts's writings and encourage new works on Butts, including this impressive biography by British scholar Blondel. Using the wealth of resources left behind by the turbulent and enigmatic Butts -- a memoir, a diary, notebooks, letters, and testimonials of relatives and famous acquaintances -- Blondel both revives and celebrates Butts's achievements as a major contributor to Modernism. The research is exhaustive and meticulous and the subject matter fascinating. Blondel has crafted a scholarly yet very readable tribute to an important 20th-century writer who deserves renewed critical attention. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries."
-- Library Journal

Nathalie Blondel was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960 and grew up in Colchester, Essex. She was educated at Colchester Girls' High School and Liverpool University, where she completed a doctorate in 1989 on the fiction of Mary Butts and the American writer Jane Bowles...

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