Portraits from Life: Modernist novelists and autobiography
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.