A Sacred Quest: The Life and Writings of Mary Butts

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9780929701455: A Sacred Quest: The Life and Writings of Mary Butts

Mary Butts's writings are now back in print amidst astonishment at the long neglect of a central figure of the modernist era. Who was this writer of such penetrating intelligence and gifted style, who pioneered ecological and spiritual consciousness? In A Sacred Quest Christopher Wagstaff has gathered essays from writers who knew Mary Butts or her work contemporaneously, together with current appraisals by celebrated writers. He has included a representative selection of Mary Butts's own poetry, fiction, journal entries, letters and literary criticism, as well as new interviews with Quentin Bell, Virgil Thomson, Hugh Ross Williamson and Eugene MacCown, and up-to-date biographical information. Combining the personal dimensions of literary biography with original source materials and first-rate criticism, A Sacred Quest provides a valuable key to a major modern author whose importance is only now being understood in the history of Modernism, feminism and the avant-garde.

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About the Author:

Christopher Wagstaff is a literary scholar, filmmaker and art curator. He scripted and co-directed the documentary film “Mary Baker Eddy: A Heart in Protest” (1988), with Julie Harris and Robert Duvall. He has curated exhibitions of the work of Jess, Harry Jacobus, and other painters, and edited Robert Duncan: Drawings and Decorated Books. Mr. Wagstaff lives in Berkeley, California.

Review:

Mary Butts is one of a number of fascinating women writers from the period between the wars (Djuna Barnes, Olive Moore, Mina Loy) who underwent a period of neglect before being rediscovered -- usually by small presses like McPherson. A Sacred Quest is an excellent introduction to her work as well as an indispensable tool for future criticism. There are reminiscences from contemporaries of hers like Bryher, Glenway Wescott, Virgil Thomson, and Quentin Bell, reprints of the few essays that have been written about her, new essays by a half-dozen others, various pieces by Butts herself (including an interview), a chronology of her life, and a lengthy checklist of all of Butts's writings and reviews of her works. In addition, a number of photographs of Butts are reproduced throughout the book. This is independent publishing at its best. -- The Review of Contemporary Fiction

This collection of critical essays, interviews, and reappraisal...brings Butts out of the anecdotal confines of other peoples' biographies... --Book News, Inc

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