A Man of Letters (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
V. S. Pritchett began writing literary essays and reviews in the 1920’s when, as a struggling young author, he needed money to put food on the table. Unlike many of his contemporaries, university wits with classical educations and systematic training, Pritchett had nothing to guide him but his own haphazard if voracious reading and his native wit. He has survived through the years on these same qualities, producing an astonishing volume of reviews and essays, in addition to novels, biographies, stories, and memoirs. He reigns as the presiding grand old man of English literature, still a voice to be heard and a presence to be reckoned with. This new selection of his critical essays, his first since The Tale Bearers in 1980, reminds one that the days of the dedicated, humane critic are not yet over, that it is still possible to write cogently and without jargon about literature simply because the written word really matters. In Pritchett’s criticism, the classics are treated as if they were newly published, while the contemporary is given the same serious but unsolemn attention as the classical.
Pritchett’s methods and approach have changed little since the war years when he was given the “Books in General” column for the New Statesman and asked to write a weekly literary essay of eighteen hundred words. With paper rationed and...
(The entire section is 1412 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Christian Science Monitor. LXXVIII, July 9, 1986, p. 21.
Library Journal. CXI, July 16, 1986, p. 87.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 29, 1986, p. 8.
The Nation. CCXLIII, August 16, 1986, p. 121.
The New York Review of Books. XXXIII, June 26, 1986, p. 7.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, May 4, 1986, p. 12.
The New Yorker. LXII, June 9, 1986, p. 108.
Smithsonian. XVII, July, 1986, p. 144.
Times Education Supplement. December 27, 1985, p. 16.
Times Education Supplement. January 31, 1986, p. 27.
Times Literary Supplement. November 22, 1985, p. 1309.
Washington Post Book World. XVI, June 22, 1986, p. 3.
(The entire section is 73 words.)