What Can Be Saved from the Wreckage? James Branch Cabell in the Twenty-first Century
by Michael Swanwick
Review by Douglas A. Anderson
Temporary Culture ISBN/ITEM#: 9780976466031
Date: 14 February 2008 / Show Article /
If critics often wish they were fiction writers, how often is the reverse true? Michael Swanwick is a fine novelist who writes both fantasy and science fiction, yet by his own choice he has put on the critic's hat. Once it was for an extended study of the writings of Hope Mirrlees (1887-1978), a British writer who is remembered primarily for her fantasy novel Lud-in-the-Mist (1926). Swanwick's essay on Mirrlees, some 20,000 words, appeared in the Spring 2003 issue of Foundation. Despite having learned how unremunerative the writing of literary criticism is, Swanwick has returned to pen a study of another '20s fantasist, the American writer James Branch Cabell (1879-1958). From official release/information:
It is hard to imagine today the magnitude of James Branch Cabell's fame in the early part of the last century. Cabell's books were Mark Twain's chief reading in the great humorist's declining years. Theodore Roosevelt received him at the White House. The occultist Aleister Crowley harried him with fan letters. H. L. Mencken was his advocate. Sinclair Lewis, accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, mentioned him as one of a number of writers who might reasonably have won it.
Yet he died as good as forgotten.
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(Source: Temporary Culture)