Penelope Fitzgerald

Penelope Fitzgerald

A Life

Book - 2013
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"Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 2000) was a great English writer, who would never have described herself in such grand terms. Her novels were short, spare masterpieces, self-concealing, oblique and subtle. She won the Booker Prize for her novel Offshore in 1979, and her last work, The Blue Flower , was acclaimed as a work of genius. The early novels drew on her own experiences a boat on the Thames in the 1960s; the BBC in war time; a failing bookshop in Suffolk; an eccentric stage-school. The later ones opened out to encompass historical worlds which, magically, she seemed to possess entirely: Russia before the Revolution; post-war Italy; Germany in the time of the Romantic writer Novalis. Fitzgerald's life is as various and as cryptic as her fiction. It spans most of the twentieth century, and moves from a Bishop's Palace to a sinking barge, from a demanding intellectual family to hardship and poverty, from a life of teaching and obscurity to a blaze of renown. She was first published at sixty and became famous at eighty. This is a story of lateness, patience and persistence: a private form of heroism. Loved and admired, and increasingly recognised as one of the outs
Publisher: London :, Chatto & Windus,, 2013, ©2013.
ISBN: 9780701184957
Branch Call Number: 823 FIT L
Characteristics: xix, 508 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm

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uncommonreader
Mar 23, 2016

A well-written, sympathetic biography chronicling the life of Fitzgerald from early privilege, success and promise through hardship to late success. I read Fitzgerald's novels as I read this biography and they enriched each other.

manoush Mar 07, 2015

An extremely well-written biography based on a staggering amount of material, yet masterfully arranged in a way that doesn't overwhelm or drown the reader. Lee's respect and admiration for Fitzgerald is clear on every page; it's refreshing to see a biographer respect her subject's silences and evasions. Lee does a fabulous job capturing Fitzgerald's late-blooming creativity. Like a detective, she reads almost every scrap Fitzgerald ever wrote (including teaching notes and comments on student essays) to tease out the long gestation of the writer's ideas. This book is a wonderful work of appreciation for values that don't carry much purchase nowadays. Values of reticence, understatement, nonconformism, and devotion to lost causes and establishment outsiders.

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readatyeg
Jun 19, 2014

So interesting to read about a person who wasn't just handed everything in life but who overcame obstacles to pursue an intellectual life in difficult circumstances. Also a great literary review of her work -- each major novel is discussed in it's own chapter. Knowing about the writer's life just makes the novels that much more interesting -- however they also stand on their own as thoughtful and hugely entertaining works. Enjoy!

stewaroby Mar 14, 2014

Hermione Lee has written a model of a literary biography; the perfect mix of telling detail, considered judgement and sympathetic but honest examination, all written in a style that makes the reader want to just keep on reading.

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