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Mutual Dislike," West offers a similarly scathing reading of Milton's Paradise Lost which, while I don't entirely agree with it, I do find both funny and thought-provoking. As Milton put it in his prose gloss on the poem, Adam was "exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge," and he accepted the advice by consulting the angel on his sexual life, at enormous length, for it was much on his mind; so much that Eve may well have been not only the first woman but the first woman to express the opinion that Men Want Only One Thing.

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The serpent in all Paradises is not a condition of the mind but a matter of hard fact: When Adam became aware of Eve's desire for separateness, when weak females flagged and failed under the intolerable burden of being one with Milton, Adam and Milton suffered as if they felt they serpent's fang. West's ability to combine a light, often humorous tone with intellectual rigor. She is being witty, making it easy for her readers to enjoy her pieces, but that doesn't mean that she's not taking seriously her subject matter and her own thoughts on that subject matter.

She may not mean every word she says, as in the provocative beginning to "Aren't Men Beasts" "There is, of course, no reason for the existence of the male sex except that one sometimes needs help in moving the piano" , but she believes firmly in her over-arching arguments, however pithily they may be delivered. This is particularly true when she is writing about issues relating to feminism, anti Communism, or literary practice. In my opinion, the urge toward censorship is one of the most effective targets for attack via satire—it's at once pernicious and also rife with human absurdity.

Women's Equality Day: Rebecca West, Ruth Gruber and Dalma Heyn

I was therefore delighted at the inclusion of "The Age of Consent," which skewers the censor with the dirtiness of his or her own mind: I myself have been accused of the graver offence [indecency] when I hardly expected it. In an essay on Henry James, I happened, when discussing his indifference to abstract thought, to use the phrase, "He never felt an idea with the sensitive finger-tips of affection. In reading up on the history of censorship one encounters this difficulty again and again: In the censor's attempts to rid the world of indecency, he runs the double danger of exposing himself to this dangerous obscenity in the first place, and of adding to the sum total of dirty thoughts by imagining offenses where in fact none existed.

I find this unnamed American's criticism particularly ironic given that James's characters conduct conversations as if they're physically picking up and caressing each comment made by their interlocutors, in a kind of tedious verbal intercourse: Also, it's dialogue like this that makes me want to stab myself with rusty forks whenever I try to read James. There is much more to love in this little volume, from the funny and touching "Why My Mother Was Frightened of Cats" to West's trenchant observations on the importance of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and the obliviousness of Richard Nixon.

A quick, rewarding read, and one that has me curious to progress to The Return of the Soldier , the next stop on Schweizer's Rebecca West train. View all 4 comments. Jun 10, Phrodrick rated it liked it. When an e book behaves this strangely, my choice is to report on the writing later. My e book of the Essential Rebecca West would change font size at every selection.

It looks rather like the end of chapter foot notes would reduce the font size dramatically.

The Essential Rebecca West: Uncollected Prose by Rebecca West

Efforts to restore to a more reasonable size often produced no results or made the font size smaller. By the end of the book I had the largest font size selected. Even at this size the size on my screen was less than the size indicated on th When an e book behaves this strangely, my choice is to report on the writing later. Even at this size the size on my screen was less than the size indicated on the selection screen. Rather like choosing a 48 point font and getting a Still plenty large but by this scale a font size of 12 will be less than 8 and very hard to read. Rebecca West should be a better known writer.

Her best work may be essential. These particular selections do not feel that essential. The sub-title, uncollected prose may serve as a warning. These essays, and reviews make good reading and form a sample of what this writer was capable.

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Ms West was better than these selections. As much as I enjoyed her at once scathing and understated British invective, much of her opinions assume that the reader shares her reading list.

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Indeed there is very little that suggests that there may be dissenting opinions. Her essay at the expense of Charles Dickens might delight a modern female High School student. One not enjoying the longer works of the great writer might enjoy having his secret real life as a spoiled and papered writer exposed. Likewise she exposes those of the left who had so many excuses for Stalinist Russian only to be confronted with the truth of the Gulag.

That truth was blatant for many years before Solzhenitsyn. Only after his Gulag nooks, could many admit to Joe as an evil on par with Hitler. This is not to say that all of her criticism is about the terrible government in Soviet Russia. Her review of Churchill's Vol 1 of the The Gathering Storm contains much speculation about Churchill will cover events in the next volume.

The Essential Rebecca West: Uncollected Prose

The events leading into WWII happened mostly as Winston was out of office and being shunned by his party friends. It is West's theory that Churchill would have to write a very careful Vol 2 if he was not to come down hard on himself. There is much to in this short book. Perhaps I would feel more kindly- the constant adjusting of the font sizes was distracting.

But mostly I wonder if these pieces do not belong together. Much of this is her later work. There has to be better collections of Ms West. This one is not essential. Jan 02, Beverly rated it it was amazing.

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I love her writing and the way her mind works. This book had several really great essays and then transitioned into reviews, which were less interesting since they are very old and I hadn't heard of the things being review. Scott Smith rated it really liked it Apr 17, Douglas Knight rated it liked it May 11, Barbie rated it really liked it Oct 11, Leif Johnson rated it it was amazing Jan 20, Open Road Media rated it it was amazing Jun 19, Helen Atkinson rated it it was amazing May 04, D Wieloch rated it it was amazing Jun 17, Allison The Allure of Books rated it really liked it Apr 22, Mike Murray rated it it was amazing May 04, Hannah rated it really liked it Jul 22, Terry Fenton rated it really liked it Aug 03, Scott Smith rated it really liked it May 07, Reggie rated it liked it Dec 08, Cinzia Giorgio rated it it was amazing May 10, Jen rated it it was amazing Dec 11, In another piece, West describes the comedic antics of her cat Pounce, and, in a third, laments the space constraints imposed on book reviewers by newspapers.

But with a scanty introduction by Anne Bobby, who co-wrote and starred in a one-woman Off-Broadway show about West, and no background information about the pieces, these disjointed articles have the feel of leftovers that won't draw in new admirers. View Full Version of PW. The Essential Rebecca West: Uncollected Prose Rebecca West, Author , intro.