Other literary forms
Janet Lewis is best known for her four historical novels, critical and popular successes published between 1932 and 1959. The first and least acclaimed, The Invasion: A Narrative of Events Concerning the Johnston Family of St. Mary’s (1932), shared with her early poems an interest in Native American life and the American wilderness. Three others, of which The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941) and The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947, 1959) are probably the best known, deal in a lucid, documentary style with historic cases of circumstantial evidence. Lewis’s fictional prose reflected her apprenticeship in Imagistic poetry—a narrative style that, in her own words, is “supposed to be transparent.”
Lewis also published a novel with a contemporary setting, Against a Darkening Sky (1943), and a collection of contemporary short stories, Good-bye, Son, and Other Stories (1946), as well as children’s books. She adapted The Wife of Martin Guerre as an opera, produced in 1956 by the Juilliard School of Music and subsequently at other schools. She wrote two other opera librettos, The Swans (pb. 1986) and The Legend (pb. 1987).