The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust

Excerpt

Nathanael West, who died in 1940 at the age of thirtysix, published four curious, highly original novels during the Thirties, of which the book that follows was the last. Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust are generally considered the most likely to survive, but the other two--The Dream Life of Balso Snell (the first), and A Cool Million (the third)--command some attention if only because the body of West's work was so unlike that of any other important American writing of the period. West's friends and contemporaries were then turning out hard-hitting, tough-minded novels of social protest; he knew and sympathized with James T. Farrell, Erskine Caldwell, Josephine Herbst, Edward Newhouse, John Herrmann, Julian Shapiro (John Sanford), Leane Zugsmith and others (while working as manager of a New York hotel, West often wrote off writers' room and board bills, and he once went with Farrell, Newhouse and Miss Zugsmith to picket in a strike at Ohrbach's store), but he always stood a little apart from them in philosophy and in the climate and character of his novels. He too deplored the emptiness of Twentieth Century life in the United States, but he chose to reflect that life in terms not of characters who were consciously involved in a struggle, but of those who were unconsciously trapped--characters who were, in the blindness of their lives, so tragic as to be true comic figures. Once, in a letter from Hollywood to Jack Conroy, West partially explained his relationship to the other writers in this way: "If I put into The Day of the Locust any of the sincere, honest people . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.