The shocking autobiography of a 1925 bimbo cheered the wartime nights for Winston Churchill, delighted H G Wells, Lytton Strachey, James Joyce, the Prince of Wales, William Faulkner, Aldous Huxley, Mussolini and Santayana. Edith Wharton described it as ‘the great American novel at last’. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t like it, and underlined the fact by once trying to murder its authoress. A staggering success, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was translated into fourteen languages, including Russian – they took it seriously as an indictment of capitalistic decline. There was even a version for what the editor of the Review cheerfully calls ‘the poor, mad Japanese’.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, once asked Isaiah Berlin who his ideal dinner guest would be. Without hesitation Berlin exclaimed, ‘William James!’'
'She digs her images into her story, so that they blow up like psychic land mines when the reader’s perception brushes against them.'
Hilary Mantel reviewing Margaret Atwood: a #BookerPrize double-header from the archive.
In Ali Smith's "Summer", 'the coronavirus pandemic has arrived. Lockdown happens too. There are allusions to Black Lives Matter, to online abuse and radicalisation, to things so recently news that it feels shocking to find them in a novel.'