Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A progression for newbies to Rebecca West

I'm thrilled that Bernard Schweizer, president of the International Rebecca West Society, left a comment earlier today on the Rebecca West post from yesterday. I'm reproducing it here since he provides expert guidance on how to approach West's considerable body of work.


I'm glad to see that people out there are finding and enjoying Rebecca West--her legacy should only grow, given her towering stature as one of the twentieth century's greatest public intellectuals and most gifted creative writers.

Here's the progression for newbies to West that I would suggest: start with The Essential Rebecca West to get a taste of just how multi-talented and brilliant she is. Is there a more delightful mini-memoir than "Why My Mother Was Frightened of Cats"!? Continue with The Return of the Soldier, an enigmatic and highly evocative tale about the time of World War I. Then read what I find her best long fiction work: the Aubrey Trilogy (i.e. The Fountain Overflows, This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund)--a real treat. Then approach Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. All other works are, of course, full of wisdom and beauty, too, especially A Train of Powder and The Birds Fall Down.

Don't expect to be always agreeing with West. She can be a thorny political thinker and hardly ever politically correct. But she was a pioneering feminist, an influential anti-communist, and an occasional blasphemer. Reading her is a bracing, invigorating experience.

Find out more about Rebecca West by visiting the homepage of the Society www.rebeccawestsociety.org

-Bernard Schweizer (President of the International Rebecca West Society)


  1. I've not read any Rebecca West yet, but she sounds like a fascinating author. Your posts are definitely making me put her work on my tbr list.

  2. SFP, first thank you for your own response to my query. It's always useful to get feedback from someone who thinks as clearly about what they read as you do. And this post is really helpful as well. I'm off now to do some Amazon shopping.

  3. What a great comment on your blog! And now I want to read Rebecca West more than ever but sadly I have so many on the TBR list -- I may start with The Fountain Overflows simply because I'm trying to clear some space on the shelves.

  4. Thanks for this post. I am slightly intimidated by West, and you've provided me with a plan to read her work. Off to order The Essential Rebecca West.


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