"Pretty Good for a Woman": The Enigmas of Evelyn Scott

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A portrait of a literary enigma and her generation focuses on her radicalism which extended to almost every strand of American intellectual life in the interwar years.

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Written in the South of France, Portugal and Algeria, The Wave (1929), by Evelyn Scott, was partly responsible for popular books on the Civil War from Gone with the Wind to the novels of John Jakes. Its author (18931963), born Elsie Dunn in Tennessee, was a friend of Kay Boyle, Emma Goldman and Jean Rhys, and lover of Waldo Frank, William Carlos Williams and Thomas Merton's father. An unstable radical Bohemian who, at the age of 20, caused a scandal in New Orleans by eloping with a man 24 years her senior and going to live with him on an isolated farm in Brazil, Scott wrote novels and poems that reflected her intense unhappiness and paranoia. She also brought James Joyce and William Faulkner to the attention of American readers. Although this short, serious attempt to explain her contradictions and failures as a daughter, wife, mother, and author is depressing and ultimately unsatisfactory, it may help spark an interest in this forgotten experimental writer. Callard is a rare-book dealer in Britain. Photos. January 27
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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