Fighting the Current: The Life Work of Evelyn Scott

Mary Wheeling White, Author, Fred Hobson, Editor
Mary Wheeling White, Author, Fred Hobson, Editor Louisiana State University Press $37.5 (280p) ISBN 978-0-8071-2201-3
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Faulkner, when asked what he thought of female novelists, remarked that fellow Southerner Evelyn Scott was ""pretty good for a woman."" White, who teaches English at Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., argues that Scott has been unfairly left out of the modernist cannon, but unfortunately, she offers far more detail on the ""current"" Scott fought--various illnesses, clashes with the male publishing world, financial troubles--than on why her work should be revived. Scott wrote historical novels on the Civil War and the French Revolution, as well as more autobiographical poetry and fiction like Escapade, describing her early elopement to Brazil. After stays in Brazil and Europe, Scott returned to New York's burgeoning art scene, where she encountered Theodore Dreiser and a new Marxist literary scene, represented here as another obstacle to her individualistic style and desire for free expression. When White does consider Scott's writing, it is usually in an over-eager attempt to make her a modernist. About a 1927 novel that ends abruptly, White writes, ""it is precisely this lack of `completeness' that declares the relevance of such a modernist work as Migrations,"" but later admits that the precipitate end might simply have been because Scott was planning another volume in the series, which she did, in fact, write. Luckily, Scott's vitality comes out in her letters, and the inclusion of many excerpts from her vigorous correspondence with other artists and intellectuals helps to illustrate Scott's own position on her condition and her writing. (Jan.)
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