A CHIME OF WORDS: The Letters of Logan Pearsall Smith by Logan Pearsall Smith

A CHIME OF WORDS: The Letters of Logan Pearsall Smith

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Selections from about 200 of the some 3000 extant Logan Pearsall Smith letters: more a twitter than a chime. American-born, Quaker-raised Smith (1865-1946), author of essays, criticism, and aphoristic miscellanies, became an England-dwelling literary/salon figure--vowing that ""a beautiful phrase is the most important thing in the world. . . nothing else really matters."" There aren't many beautiful phrases in these feathery excerpts, however, nor much in the way of substance. A section ""On Reading and Writing"" features some bland statements of Smith's conservative esthetics, with the most energy coming in a response to a V. Woolf essay. (""The crepuscle or twilight which seems to you a dawn looks to me uncommonly like an approaching and rapidly descending night of Literature."") Elsewhere, Smith laments ugly acronyms but delights in genuine word-coining notions. A gathering of his impressions of famous acquaintances is roundly disappointing: G. Stein ""is amusing and jolly and tells good stories about people""; Shaw ""is a gentle, egotistical talkative old creature."" And there are comments on such writers as Edith Wharton (""Can one forgive such platitude of style?"") and Edith Sitwell (""more and more a touch of genius in her high, almost hysterical screams""), on travel locales, on current events, on old age. . . plus some droopy literary/art gossip, especially re the doings in Italy with brother-in-law Bernard Berenson et al. A few sprightly tidbits, a few felicities--but wan snippets overall, even for devotees of old-world cultivation.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1984
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin