STEVIE SMITH by Frances Spalding


A Biography
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From the author of Vanessa Bell: A Bloomsbury Portrait (1983), a comprehensive look at the life and literary work of Stevie Smith (1902-1971)--whose unorthodox, sometimes humorous, deceptively deep poetry won her acclaim throughout England and entree into intellectual society even as she continued to work as a secretary and live in an unfashionable London suburb. A seemingly difficult subject, Smith guarded her privacy: with friends, she preferred to giggle and offer up sharp observations rather than share confidences. Established critics have largely ignored her, yet, as a person, she has continued to fascinate. In the 60's, looking older than her years (and dressed in little-girl clothes), she mesmerized audiences at poetry readings--her lisp and her tendency to sing her poems off-key only added to the power of the performance; Glenda Jackson later starred in Stevie, a stage play and movie based on her life. Spalding uses the public record, reminiscences of those who knew her, and Smith's autobiographical novels. Largely eschewing theoretical interpretation, she favors human understanding (noting that some of she personal material seems ripe For psychoanalytical interpretation) and traditional critical analysis of sources, influences, and form (noting that the poetry has been strangely neglected by feminist literary critics--who) would have a field day with it). A serious study of an outsider poet, acknowledging her eccentricities while emphasizing her accomplishments and the rich, active life of her mind.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1989
ISBN: 393-02672-8
Publisher: Norton
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