Jean Rhys revisited (Stride 2000) ISBN 1 900152 68 1
Memoir, social history, biography, autobiography, literary criticism - Jean Rhys revisited is all of these. Anyone who values good writing will enjoy this remarkable book, which crosses and transgresses genres only to create its own. A visionary, fiercely poetic work exposing various spirits in exile, it tells the awkward truth of how writers must struggle to survive and sometimes even triumph.
Jean Rhys revisited contains fascinating, previously unpublished material and photographs. Relationships between writers are examined and explored. Here memories meet dreams and reflections on life and death, the writing life and writers' lives, yesterday, today and maybe tomorrow. Jean Rhys revisited also reads as informative cautionary tale and manual of style. How does one learn to write? Can you really learn to write creatively, and how long might it take? If writing like life is an endurance test, then here is a very imaginative and individual form of literary survival kit...
Alexis Lykiard, well known as a poet, novelist and translator, was a friend of Jean Rhys during her last decade.
‘The Jean you knew, and describe so vividly, was the Jean I knew – our experiences of her are almost identical. I also think you are one of the few critics who really understand her quality and praise her for the right reasons. The book is a fascinating meditation on all kinds of themes, refracted through Jean’s sensibility and your own… Your book is so accurate and well researched and I know that like Jean, you are concerned with ‘nothing but the truth’ in the art of writing… I congratulate you wholeheartedly on a most distinguished and original and rewarding work” [Francis Wyndham]
“An odd but remarkable book, as much a record of a friendship as it is an evocation of its subject” [William Trevor, The Spectator]
“I’m very much enjoying JRR – fascinating mix of memoir and autobiog. I’ve never read Jean Rhys – you’ve convinced me that I’ve got to put that to rights pronto” [J.G. Ballard]
“So many things to admire about it… A brave and funny book too. I know I shall return to this lovely book again and again” [Lindsay Clarke]
‘’A haunted meditation. A fine poet summoning the shade of a great writer in her final exile: memory, fruitful digression, dues paid…A fine piece of work. A proper tribute to the unjustly reforgotten, as well as an heroic version of the writer’s life, the slanted autobiography”[Iain Sinclair]
There were also many other favourable comments and numerous appreciative reviews, especially from other writers – Chris Petit, Allan Massie, Carole Morin, Jim Burns, Alan Ross, Ursula Holden, Francis King, Susan Hill, Alan Dent, Lucretia Stewart, David Caddy, Ian Finlayson, and John Lucas among them.