THE FICTION OF NATHANAEL WEST by Randall Reid

THE FICTION OF NATHANAEL WEST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Because of his uncrowded eminence in American literature, the works of Nathanael West have often been called forth to celebrate the initiation or dissolution of any number of literary cults, myths and fads, some of which West himself sadly/hilariously ridiculed. Mr. Reid, however, will have none of super-imposed relevance, but contents himself with good works, in teasing out patterns, debts and evidences of West's evolution in total intuitions. The uneven parodies in Balso Snell; the introduction of the victim of the decadence of myth in Miss Lonclyhearts; the hurried burlesque of A Cool Million; the advent of the aroused victim in The Day of the Locust; all are illuminated carefully, coolly, often with a cryptic moue: (""Ruthless sympathy is seldom comforting.""). Reid's treatment of the use of myth, the ritual violence, the ""comic strip"" technique, the polar hells of futility and misery/violence which delineated the direction of West's world are stimulating. With a minimum of finger-snapping at other critiques, Mr. Reid writes rather handsomely himself--spare prose, intelligent, unadorned, and innocent, except for a flurry in an admirable epilogue of modern instances. A superb introduction to West and the literature of the Thirties, however special.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago