David Plante was born to a French-speaking family rooted in French culture, and he has never been able to escape his French-speaking heritage. In one novel, The Foreigner, the main character pretends to be of French origin, though he is an American. Plante attended Boston College from 1957 to 1959 and from 1960 to 1961, with the intervening academic year at the University of Louvain in Belgium. After graduating, Plante taught for several years, first in Rome from 1961 to 1962, and then, in succession, at the Boston School of Modern Languages and St. John’s Preparatory School.
In 1966 Plante moved to England to make his home there. He has received numerous grants and stipends, and in 1983 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In the same year he won the Prize for Artistic Merit from the American Academy and Institute of the Arts and Letters. His novels, the literary form to which Plante has chiefly devoted himself, are usually short, almost novella-length. Each is written with a supreme care for frank, refined English. Many are told in an emotionless, almost documentary tone, even when the narration is in the first person. Plante’s first novel, The Ghost of Henry James, borrows the theme of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898) in telling the story of a gothic family nightmare: The unpleasant entanglements of a New England family lead the main character to madness, and finally death. The horror of madness and death,...
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