A substantative biography of Joyce Cary, just as obdurate if not obsessed an artist as his Gulley Jimson, who, although with less panache, devoted himself with equal passion to his muse through many long years, both unacknowledged and financially unrewarded. Mr. Foster, a Canadian professor (and a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award winner) has had access to all the Cary papers. Off to the wars (World War I) in Montenegro, Cary returned in wretched shape to finally marry his Gertrude (whose Calvinist-Victorian background strengthened her for the scratchpenny years ahead), then went off to the post in Nigeria where he wrote, rewrote, destroyed most of his formative writing. His prophetic, ""I foresee a famine in foolscap"" was not far wrong for many years until he sold three stories to the S.E.P., began to publish the novels (a complete exegesis here) which were to follow without remission from 1932 to his death. His entry into politics, the theatre, films; the death of his wife; the lonely last years of increasing irritability, fatigue, and the long last illness all follow in this conjoint record of the man, his life and his work. The first biography, and it seems hardly likely that there should ever need to be another, handled with quiet authority and eminent care.