FIGURES IN THE FOREGROUND by Frank Swinnerton

FIGURES IN THE FOREGROUND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When dehumanism in one form or another rules contemporary letters, it's a treat to come upon someone who still has a personality, a vibrance. Not that the prose is quite as distinguished, but England's Frank Swinnerton- the novelist, editor, critic- has had a full life from the Georgians to the present and here- with considerable charm, cleverness and cheekiness, too- he concludes his literary reminiscences. Background covered 1900 to WWI; Figures tackles the '20's and '30's. There's an engaging exchange of letters between him and Walpole; smart shop talk about the peculiarities of publishing; sprightly, amiable appraisals of Maugham, Bennett. Murray, Russell and a half-dozen other noble intellects. Things change with the Bloomsbury Group, the modernists, however, and pomposity comes home to roost. Some statements even have to be seen to be believed: ""If Eliot had enjoyed my direct and varied experience of men and women,"" Eliot, says Swinnerton, would never have believed in Original Sin. Dear! Dear! But the book can survive it; a vivid, valuable chronicle of parts of an already legendary past.

Publisher: Doubleday