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The element of lavishness : letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwel
Warner, Sylvia Townsend
Adult Nonfiction PR6045.A812 Z494 2001

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In 1936, the English writer Sylvia Townsend Warner published her first story in the New Yorker; shortly thereafter she was contacted by mail by a new entry-level editor named William Maxwell. Over the next 40 years, Warner published 153 stories in the magazine, and Maxwell became one of the best-known fiction arbiters of his time. They came to be close friends and correspondents, their exchange (totaling 1,300 letters) depending only partially on New Yorker business. The two carried on an almost impossibly civilized conversation: Warner, learned and eccentric, peppered her letters with obscure literary references and enclosed the odd gift (one year she sent Maxwell a spoon). Maxwell displayed an editor's refinement and a touching solicitude toward his British friend. Though at times they foundered in a sea of mutual admiration, the correspondents were at their best when exchanging literary opinions, details of their respective family lives or simply two ordinary people's distracted awareness of global events. The letters were often not dated, and putting them in sequence must have been a Herculean task for editor Steinman (who also edited Maxwell's correspondence with Frank O'Connor); in any case, the edition is not without flaws. Unable to print the entire correspondence because of its sheer volume, Steinman included some complete letters and excerpts of others, without noting his omissions or explaining his choices; there is no framing material other than a brief introduction, and scarcely any notes contextualizing the letters. Yet despite these editorial oversights, readers who admire Warner and Maxwell for their own beautifully expressed selves will find much to enjoy in this tribute to the leisurely intimacies of a bygone era. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

It has been said that everything written is either poetry or prose. The 40 years of letters between Warner and Maxwell suggest that in the care of experts the written word could simultaneously be both. WarnerDpoet, novelist, and short story writerDfirst came to Maxwell's attention when he read her narrative poem "Opus 7." It was laterDas a copywriter, and before his reign as the renowned editor of The New Yorker (the magazine published 153 of Warner's short stories)Dthat they began their remarkable correspondence. Although both were involved in other relationships (Maxwell married in 1945, and Warner had a 40-year lesbian relationship with poet Valentine Ackland), it is clear that they shared a platonic love. The letters are never mere reports but are passionate, lively, provocative, fun, and serious, too. The subject matter is wide-ranging: money, health, food, rejections, books and book reviews, cats and dogs, children, and, of course, writing. Regardless of age or gender, readers will love the Warner-Maxwell letters; expect the best of goosebumps. In this admirable collection, editor Steinman (English, Nassau Community Coll.) includes entire letters as well as excerpts from more than 500 letters. Recommended for all libraries.DRobert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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