The Crystal Cabinet: My Childhood at Salterns

Mary Butts, Author, Barbara Wagstaff, Designed by, Camilla Bagg, Designed by Beacon Press (MA) $19.95 (356p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7038-3
Known for her spiritually questing novels, her supernatural stories and her flaming red hair, Mary Butts consorted in London and Paris literary circles wth Hemingway, Cocteau, Ford Madox Ford and the Bloomsbury clique. Her fiction and her poetry are today in near-total eclipse. This flowery autobiography was first published in a truncated version in 1937, the year she died. Butts's daughter, Camilla Bagg, has edited the present complete edition, restoring such traumatic incidents as the false accusations by the novelist's mother that she made passes at her stepfather. Most of the narrative centers on Salterns, the provincial estate where she grew up. This memoir is a sensitive woman's meticulous account of her evolving consciousness from sheltered child to independent writer. Regrettably, it is also priggish, sermonizing, querulous, full of unresolved conflicts over authority figures and written in a dated, suffocatingly ornate style. (August)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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