by Taylor, Gay [pseud. for Ethelwyne Stewart McDowall]
New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. Very Good in Very Good dj. (c.1930). First American Edition. Hardcover. NOISBN . [moderate shelfwear, rear hinge cracked but holding; jacket somewhat discolored at spine, old internal tape repairs at several folding points (with a bit of external ghosting of same), minor paper loss at spine ends]. The author's first book -- and apparently her only novel, per se -- explores "the shifting balance of the sexes in modern life," in particular in England, where the devastation visited on the male population during World War I was felt acutely in the following years. The focus is on three women (or "girls," as the jacket-blurb writer would have it), each with her own approach to life and love, who find their greatest emotional satisfaction in their friendship for one another. One contemporary critic called it "a novel that reveals a soul" and felt that the book reflected well "the state of mind of most thinking English women of thirty or so," while another fumed that "if English feminism has a literature[!], this novel must represent its lowest point; for it is one of the rankest pieces of nonsense that this patient reviewer ever read." (Both the quoted critics, by the way, were women.) The author (1896-1970), born Ethelwyne Stewart McDowall, had been a co-founder in 1920 (with, among others, her then-husband Hal Taylor) of the Golden Cockerel Press, which published some of the early work of A.E. Coppard. Her own literary output was sporadic at best, and culminated with the publication in 1958 (under the pseudonym "Loran Hurnscot") of a remarkable book entitled "A Prison, A Paradise," which drew on her own diary to tell of her pathological love affair with Coppard (who, like every person and place in the book, was given an alias), her failed attempt to realize perfection through sexual love, and her ultimate spiritual revelation and achievement of inner peace. The researcher who ultimately "decoded" the book and identified all the people and places, more than forty years after the author's death, called her "a trail-blazer, a one-off, a New Woman who replaced Victorian woman that sham manufactured by men for men – one who deserved to be remembered." . (Inventory #: 20913)
Unusual, Uncommon and Obscure Books in many (but not all) fields, with particular interest in American Culture (Popular and Unpopular), Art, Literature, Life and People from the 1920s through the 1960s.
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