• correspondence

Memo to William Maxwell: Read Balzac

During William Maxwell’s tenure as fiction editor of The New Yorker, one of his favorite and most frequently published authors was Sylvia Townsend Warner, whose stories became a staple of the periodical. Maxwell and Warner’s happy and profound literary friendship is chronicled in their copious correspondence, collected in The Elements of Lavishness. It’s a feast of intelligence and expression that will delight any devoted reader, even one unfamiliar with the works of the authors. From descriptions of hurricanes, blackouts, and other dramatic occurrences to accountings of mundane matters of domestic aggravation, from rites of private passage to painstaking tinkerings with the nuts and bolts of literary work, it’s a marvelous testament to a friendship.

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April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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