Nathanael West, 1903-1940

Portrait

Biographical note

US author, screenwriter and satirist. Although West was not widely known during his life, his reputation grew after his death, especially with the publication of his collected novels by New Directions in 1957. Miss Lonelyhearts is widely regarded as West's masterpiece. The Day of the Locust still stands as one of the best novels written about the early years of Hollywood. It is often compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, written at about the same time and also set in Hollywood. If one were to draw a family tree of authors who employed "black humor" in their works of fiction, West could be seen as the offspring of Gogol and Poe, and the progenitor of Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov, and Martin Amis.

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