Title: Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940.
Publisher: University of Texas, Austin
Publication Date: 1986
Edition: First Printing of the First Edition
A Fine copy in a Near Fine dust jacket with touch of rubbing to the extremities and a small nick to the rear flap. This important study investigates a little-known aspect of 20th-century literary history. Benstock describes the lives and work of approximately two dozen English and American women who lived in Paris during its heyday as a literary center. Though many of these women made significant contributions both to Parisian expatriate culture and to modern literature, they have long been overshadowed by the reputations of their male relatives and colleagues. By examining the lives and work of such diverse figures as Gertrude Stein and Caresse Crosby, Edith Wharton and Djuna Barnes, Benstock attempts to establish what it was like to be both a woman and a writer in literary Paris at the time. >From the Library Journal. Catalog Late Winter 09. Bookseller Inventory # 23170
Synopsis: Now available in a durable paperback edition, Shari Benstock's critically acclaimed, best-selling Women of the Left Bank is a fascinating exploration of the lives and works of some two dozen American, English, and French women whose talent shaped the Paris expatriate experience in the century's early years.
This ambitious historical, biographical, and critical study has taken its place among the foremost works of literary criticism. Maurice Beebe calls it "a distinguished contribution to modern literary history." Jane Marcus hails it as "the first serious literary history of the period and its women writers, making along the way no small contribution to our understanding of the relationships between women artists and their male counterparts, from Henry James to Hemingway, Joyce, Picasso, and Pound."
Review: "The question that predicates this inquiry is not 'What was it like to be part of literary Paris,'" writes Shari Benstock, but "'What was it like to be a woman in literary Paris?'" That city's Left Bank, says the author, was in the early part of the 20th century "inhabited by all those on the margin of culture, a place for the dislocated, even the dispossessed." Among these expatriates were women writers, editors, poets, journalists, and novelists who came to Paris from America or England, often to escape a family or society that made it hard for them to live as a lesbian or a black woman--or simply as an intelligent, ambitious person uninterested in settling into traditional domestic life.
If you believe the usual literary histories, the early 20th-century modernist movement in English literature was, Gertrude Stein excepted, a movement of men. Benstock restores the roles of such remarkable women as Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Sylvia Beach, and Janet Flanner in the history of the time, revealing what she calls the "underside of the cultural canvas." The book is thorough and wonderfully descriptive, offering both a literary history and a portrait of the lives of creative women. --Maria Dolan
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