Richard Freadman reviews 'Portraits from Life: Modernist novelists and autobiography' by Jerome Boyd Maunsell

Richard Freadman reviews 'Portraits from Life: Modernist novelists and autobiography' by Jerome Boyd Maunsell

Portraits from Life: Modernist novelists and autobiography

by Jerome Boyd Maunsell

Oxford University Press, $40.95 hb, 282 pp, 9780198789369

H.G. Wells, in his Experiment in Autobiography (1934), describes Henry James as ‘a strange unnatural human being’ who ‘regarded his fellow creatures with a face of distress and a remote effort at intercourse, like some victim of enchantment placed in the centre of an immense bladder’. Literary friendship and acquaintanceship, including the ways in which writer-colleagues portray one another in their autobiographies, is a key theme in Jerome Boyd Maunsell’s study of modernist novelists and autobiography. The author of an absorbing and incisive short biography of Susan Sontag (2014), Maunsell is himself an accomplished life writer.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in ABR Online Exclusives
Richard Freadman

Richard Freadman

Richard Freadman is Emeritus Professor of English and retired Director of the Unit for Biographical and Autobiographical Studies at La Trobe University. His books in the area of life-writing are the memoir, Shadow of Doubt: My father and myself (2003); Threads of Life: Autobiography and the will (2001); and This Crazy Thing a Life: Australian Jewish autobiography (2007). His second memoir, Stepladder to Hindsight, was published by Hybrid in 2016.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.