AfterWord, Dale Salwak, Editor., U. of Iowa

Conjuring the literary dead is the subtitle of this book. The editor has assembled articles (essays) (stories) by various writers, each piece representing a communication with a dead writer.

Various literary means convey the writings, but there is usually dialogue throughout. It is poorly written dialogue.

There are many questionable points. For instance,

INTERVIEWER: “Do you accept the view of Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald…that you were the first indigenous American to write about American manners rather than European ones?  EDITH WHARTON: “That’s probably quite true…”

WRONG. Mark Twain published books about American manners when Edith was a teenager.

Edith Wharton complains she had no formal education (p. 151). Melville had no college education; Mark Twain went through the sixth grade. However, in Edith’s case I agree that Wharton would have been a far superior author if she had taken the Creative Writing Course at the University of Iowa. I note that Edith could have done that because her family was filthy rich, unlike Twain or Melville’s families.

There are statements in some chapters demonstrating an appalling lack of knowledge about the dead authors: Joseph Conrad [who is not all Heart of Darkness].  Conrad had no humor in his books. Anyone who has not read Lord Jim should not be writing an article for this compilation entitled, AfterWord. Anyone who doesn’t know about the butterfly chapter in Lord Jim, God help them.

Lord Jim, God help them.


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