Elizabeth Hardwick (1916-2007) was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and educated at the University of Kentucky and Columbia University. A recipient of a Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is the author of three novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays. She was a co-founder and advisory editor of The New York Review of Books and contributed more than one hundred reviews, articles, reflections, and letters to the magazine. NYRB Classics publishes Sleepless Nights, a novel, and Seduction and Betrayal, a study of women in literature.


On Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath, 1959; photograph by Rollie McKenna
In Sylvia Plath’s work and in her life the elements of pathology are so deeply rooted and so little resisted that one is disinclined to hope for general principles, sure origins, applications, or lessons. Her fate and her themes are hardly separate and both are singularly terrible. Her work is brutal, like the smash of a fist; and sometimes it is also mean in its feeling. Literary comparisons are possible, echoes vibrate occasionally, but to whom can she be compared in spirit, in content, in temperament?

Barbara Epstein (1928–2006)

Barbara Epstein, my friend and fellow editor for forty-three years, died on June 16. She did much to create The New York Review and she brought her remarkable intelligence and editorial skill to bear on everything that appeared in these pages. We publish here memoirs by some of the writers …

Susan Sontag (1933–2004)

Except in unusually desolating circumstances, human beings do not want to die. Medicines, hospitals, and so on are called upon to do what they can, and, that failing, there is not much to do except to surrender. It was otherwise with Susan Sontag, who fought death, challenged it. Her death …

Funny as a Crutch

Nathanael West: Novels and Other Writings

selected and with notes by Sacvan Bercovitch

Nathanael West

by Robert Emmet Long
Nathanael West (1903–1940) published four novels, wrote many screenplays, and left strewn about among his papers “Unpublished Writings and Fragments.” West had the masochist’s subtle attachment to his failures, a recognition which is, in its fashion, somehow self-affirming. He reports that the income from his first three novels was $780: …

Among the Savages

The Golovlyov Family

by Shchedrin, translated from the Russian by Natalie Duddington, with an introduction by James Wood

Sketches of Provincial Life

by Saltykov-Shchedrin, translated from the Russian and with notes by Frederic Aston
The Golovlyov Family, a novel from the late 1870s by the Russian writer M.E. Saltykov (pen name Shchedrin), is a curiosity of world literature in its relentless assault on the common sentiments of family life. The Golovlyovs, mother, father, three sons, and a daughter, live on their estate in the …

On ‘The Unpossessed’

The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger is a daring, unique fiction, a wild, crowded comedy set in New York City in the 1930s. The inchoate, irrational, addictive metropolis, ever clamoring, brawling between its two somehow sluggish rivers, is a challenge to its citizens and to the novelist’s art. In the end, …

Pilgrim’s Progress

Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street

by Richard Lingeman

Sinclair Lewis: An American Life

by Mark Schorer
Sinclair Lewis, with a crumpled face, red hair, manic zest, and manic writing, came forth from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the year of his birth, 1885. His father was a doctor and after the death of his mother he had a kind, ambitious, ever-onward stepmother. The young man was not a …


Seabiscuit: An American Legend

by Laura Hillenbrand

Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America's Premier Racing Dynasty

by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach
So many years at home, Lexington, Kentucky, heart of the Bluegrass, as we name it, to wrench it away from the Kentucky mountains with their hills scarred and rutted from ruthless strip mining for coal; the Anglo-Saxons or Scotch-Irish on the front porches; their songs with zithers and fiddles; bungalow …