The Weight of a World of Feeling

Paper Text – $49.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3156-9

Cloth Text – $120.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-3154-5
Publication Date
November 2016
Page Count
456 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Weight of a World of Feeling

Reviews and Essays by Elizabeth Bowen
Elizabeth Bowen / Edited and with an introduction by Allan Hepburn

Elizabeth Bowen began reviewing books in August 1935. By that time she was already an experienced fiction writer with four short story collections and four novels to her credit. Her fifth novel, The House in Paris, was published on 26 August 1935, just nine days after her first book review appeared in The New Statesman. She reviewed regularly for that journal, known for its commitment to leftist politics, until 1943. At the same time, she accepted requests to review for PurposeThe SpectatorThe ListenerThe BellThe Observer, and other publications. From 1941 until 1950, and again from 1954 until 1958, she filed weekly columns for The Tatler and Bystander. Especially after she began to travel time to the US in the 1950s, she was asked to review books for The New York Times Book Review and The New York Herald Tribune.

This fascinating collection of reviews is filled with first impressions of novels, autobiographies, memoirs, illustrated books, biographies of politicians and artists, short story collections, and literary criticism. Books spark statements from Bowen about general principles of fictional technique; she articulates her understanding of the inner workings of fiction incidentally, while providing an opinion about the book at hand. In this volume, Hepburn draws together in this volume all the reviews that Bowen left uncollected in her non-fiction collections, as well as several more familiar essays that that she published in The Tatler, in order to make them accessible to a broader audience.
About the Author

ALLAN HEPBURN is James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature at McGill University.

"Allan Hepburn has provided another admirable chapter of Bowen scholarship, deepening our knowledge of, and our engagement with, one of the most important novelists of the 20th century" —The Irish Times

"Both an inexhaustible source of information and a highly enjoyable book, The Weight of a World of Feeling is a must-read for Bowen scholars and for anyone interested in the literary world of the mid-twentieth century." —BREAC

“A delight to read from start to finish. Bowen writes like no one else, with passion, discrimination, and finesse. She establishes views, interpretations, and judgements of absolutely incontrovertible rightness, with a winning and charmingly infectious sense of conviction and combined with beautifully expansive and concrete knowledge of the fiction writer’s craft.” —Adam Piette, author of Imagination at War: British Fiction and Poetry 1939-1945 and Remembering and the Sound of Words: Mallarmé, Proust, Joyce, Beckett

“Though mainly known as a novelist and short story writer, this volume introduces Bowen the writer of reviews and essays. Hepburn’s primary and original research in The Weight of a World of Feeling brings a substantial body of Bowen’s non-fiction to readers. It is a highly welcome contribution to the field.” —Patricia Laurence, author of Lily Briscoe's Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism, and China and The Reading of Silence: Virginia Woolf in the English Tradition

"Allan Hepburn's The Weight of a World of Feeling: Reviews and Essays by Elizabeth Bowen contributes to a little-known aspect of Elizabeth Bowen's career. The collection brings together Bowen's reviews, published from 1935 until her death in 1971, and provides a look at Bowen a a reader of fiction . . . Over four decades of reviews, she commented on works by her contemporaries Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell, Ivy Compton-Burnett, and Graham Greene, and through this work refined her own stylistic and formal preferences as a writer. Bowel as also attuned to fiction outside the English-speaking world, and regularly reviewed . . . French novels by contemporaries such as François Mauriac and Françoise Sagan." —The Year's Work in English Studies