A Little Original Sin (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Shortly after undertaking a biography of Jane Bowles, Millicent Dillon began to discover coincidental circumstances in their lives: both had a mother named Claire and a grandfather named Louis, both had lived in Woodmere, Long Island, at the same time, and both had broken their legs in the same year. At one point Jane and her mother moved to the building where Millicent Dillon’s family had lived at the time of her birth. Needless to say, these uncanny coincidences imply a closeness that really is not there. If there is a closeness of spirit between the two, that is not apparent. This biography gives the impression of Dillon plodding up a street in Woodmere, earnestly in search of an elfin Jane, who despite her slight limp is dancing along only two streets away, never glimpsed with entire clarity and never quite caught.
To give a proper estimate of a cult figure is of course always difficult and is particularly so in the case of Jane Bowles, who was original in much more than her sinning. Thrown with composers and writers at an early age, she was recognized as a talented writer before she had published anything and achieved a succès d’estime in certain circles for her novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943), and her play, In the Summer House (1954), without gaining either a popular success or a critical success in the ordinary sense with these puzzling and elusive works. Interest in Jane Bowles and her work has continued to the...
(The entire section is 2203 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Book World. XI, August 2, 1981, p. 3.
Booklist. LXXVII, July 1, 1981, p. 1383.
Choice. XIX, November, 1981, p. 378.
Library Journal. CVI, June 1, 1981, p. 1223.
Maclean’s. XCIV, August 31, 1981, p. 62.
New Leader. LXIV, October 5, 1981, p. 14.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVI, September 13, 1981, p. 11.
Saturday Review. VIII, August, 1981, p. 56.
Time. CXVIII, September 14, 1981, p. 96.
Village Voice. XXVI, August 19, 1981, p. 35.
(The entire section is 51 words.)