Sally Benson M.W.S. - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

People are indeed fascinating to Miss Benson. It would seem that scarcely anyone with whom she comes in contact is safe from her keen appraisal of weaknesses and her ironic exposure of them. The amateur aesthete, the ornamental but deceitful wife and her equally culpable opposite, dowdy, dull and faultfinding, are the recipients of most of Miss Benson's gibes. In one form or another, they appear in a majority of the stories [in "People Are Fascinating,"] and along with the bachelor girl and the misunderstood husband, they bear the brunt of the author's slightly malicious wit.

Pity is reserved for a select few, and the stories in which this gentler emotion is concerned are among the best, in that they show an understanding which goes beyond shallow exposure to genuine sympathy….

Miss Benson's stories often seem trivial and shallow, but there is so much between the lines that they repay study. Her ability to leave equally as much unsaid, when she writes a few paragraphs on someone, renders her work especially provocative. Miss Benson is too good a technician to clutter up her work, and too much an artist to underline her meaning. The resultant restraint and subtlety are admirable qualities. It is to be hoped that some day her subject matter may be more worthy of them.

M.W.S., "Sally Benson Vignettes," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1936 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), July 29, 1936, p. 10.