CONTINUAL LESSONS: The Journals of Glenway Westcot by Robert Phelps

CONTINUAL LESSONS: The Journals of Glenway Westcot

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of social observations and self-analyses, Glenway Wescott's journals, undertaken during a fallow period in his creative life with the object of eventual publication, reveal his profound anxieties about his writing and his sexuality. A formidable and elegant presence in modern American letters, Wescott, born on a Wisconsin farm in 1901, handsome, articulate, and witty, acquired his "real" education, he claimed, from living in Europe in the 20's and from his vast array of friends, including Isadora Duncan, Ford Madox Ford, Jean Cocteau, Katherine Anne Porter, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Somerset Maugham, Thorton Wilder, Christopher Isherwood, and Joseph Campbell. Although he believed that his talent was never equal to his opportunities or ideals, he wrote easily--poetry, short stories, essays, and four distinguished novels including Pilgrim Hawk (1940), a book considered by the London Times in 1987 as "perfect" as any work in the English language. In a literary age he considered "glorious and dazzling," Westcott served publicly as president of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, while privately he "anatomized" himself in his journals, explored his "hypersensibility," homosexuality, and extravagance, and vacillated between romance and lust, sentiment and irony, and lyrical natural descriptions and clinical sexual ones prepared for Dr. Alfred Kinsey, whose research he contributed to. Fearing that "life won't be long enough for all the writing and certainly my heart is not great enough for all the living I get myself into," he lived until age 86, mostly at Stoneblossom, the house given to him by his sister on her cattle ranch in western New Jersey, and in New York with his lifelong companion, Monroe Wheeler, a friend to several generations of homosexual writers and artists who urged Westcott to become a spokesman for them. Probing, wise, daring, and explicit.

ISBN: 374-12889-8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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