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Life and Death of Harriett Frean
by May Sinclair
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?A little masterpiece.? ?New Statesman
May Sinclair's Life and Death of Harriett Frean is credited with being an important contribution to modernist aesthetics. Bookman (61, March 1922) noted that it was "a book of singular beauty" and Times Literary Supplement said of the book that "every word does its work." (From its February 2, 1922, issue.) It's a book at once unsettling and at the same time rich with irony, as rewarding to the reader now as it was generations ago when Sinclair first published it in 1922.
She tried to reinstate herself through grief; she sheltered behind her bereavement, affecting a more profound seclusion, abhorring strangers; she was more than ever the reserved, fastidious daughter of Hilton Frean. She had always thought of herself as different from Connie and Sarah, living with a superior, intellectual life. She turned to the books she had read with her mother, Dante, Browning, Carlyle, and Ruskin, the biographies of Great Men, trying to retrace the footsteps of her lost self, to revive the forgotten thrill. But it was no use.
Inside Flap Copy
?In a few short pages,? writes Francine Prose in her Introduction, ?May Sinclair succeeds in rendering the oppressive weight and strength of the chains of family love.? Young Harriett Frean is taught that ?behaving beautifully? is paramount, and she becomes a self-sacrificing woman whose choices prove devastating to herself and to those who love her most. An early pioneer of
stream-of-consciousness writing, Sinclair employs the technique brilliantly in this finely crafted psychological novel. Evoking the style and depth of her contemporaries Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence, Sinclair?s haunting narrative also reflects her keen interest in the theories of Jung and Freud. The text of this Modern Library 20th Century Rediscovery was set from the first American edition of 1922.
From the Back Cover
“A little masterpiece.” —New Statesman
About the Author
May Sinclair (1863–1946), poet, translator, critic, fiction writer, woman’s suffrage advocate, and co-founder of a pioneering psychoanalytic clinic, was one of the most popular female British novelists of the early twentieth century. Her twenty-four novels include Mary Olivier: A Life and The Three Sisters.
Francine Prose’s most recent book is The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired. A contributing editor at Harper’s, she is the author of ten books of fiction, including Blue Angel, a 2000 National Book Award finalist.
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