Mavis Gallant (1922-2014) was born in Montreal and worked as a journalist at the Montreal Standard before moving to Europe to devote herself to writing fiction. After traveling extensively she settled in Paris, where she lived until her death. She is the recipient of the 2002 Rea Award for the Short Story and the 2004 PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement. New York Review Books Classics has published two previous collections of Gallant’s stories, Paris Stories, selected and introduced by Michael Ondaatje (2002), and Varieties of Exile, selected and introduced by Russell Banks (2003).

Limpid Pessimist

The long career of Marguerite Yourcenar—she was born in 1903—stands among a litter of flashier reputations as testimony to the substance and clarity of the French language and the purpose and meaning of a writer’s life. In an age of slops, she writes the firm, accurate, expressive French that used …