Josephine Herbst (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
In 1942, Josephine Herbst—novelist, well-known journalist, and political activist—was dismissed from her job at the Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCI) in Washington, D.C., as a security risk. Her name was later cleared, but she never knew the reason for her dismissal, that a close friend had betrayed her gratuitously, and in a sense the loss of the OCI job marked a downward turn in her professional fortunes from which she never recovered. Herbst, the author of seven novels and more than one hundred published pieces of journalism, the companion and friend of Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Katherine Anne Porter, and James T. Farrell, had by the time of her death in 1969 been reduced to a name in a footnote. Her works were, and remain, out of print, known only to the most highly specialized students of the decades between World War I and World War II.
Elinor Langer, a critic, journalist, and teacher, came upon Herbst’s name by chance, was bowled over by her historical trilogy—Pity Is Not Enough (1933), The Executioner Waits (1934), Rope of Gold (1939)—and set out to discover the reasons for the author’s virtual disappearance from American literary history. Herbst had been praised by her contemporaries as an important novelist. She was in Paris and Barcelona and Bucks County and Greenwich Village with all of the other writers whose names make up the official canon of the 1930’s. Why was she not...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Booklist. LXXXI, September 1, 1984, p. 18.
Kirkus Reviews. LII, June 15, 1984, p. 569.
Library Journal. CIX, July, 1984, p. 1320.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. September 2, 1984, p. 2.
New Leader. LXVII, September 3, 1984, p. 17.
The New Republic. CXCI, September 17, 1984, p. 30.
The New York Times Book Review. August 5, 1984, p. 3.
The New Yorker. LX, September 17, 1984, p. 142.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXV, June 8, 1984, p. 59.
Time. CXXIV, September 3, 1984, p. 80.
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