Buy New
  • List Price: $17.95
  • Save: $4.25 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 17 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A House and Its Head (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – February 28, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0940322646 ISBN-10: 0940322641 Edition: First Edition

Buy New
Price: $13.70
30 New from $8.57 33 Used from $4.31
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$8.57 $4.31
Mass Market Paperback
"Please retry"
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Frequently Bought Together

A House and Its Head (New York Review Books Classics) + Manservant and Maidservant (New York Review Books Classics) + Pastors and Masters (Hesperus Modern Voices)
Price for all three: $43.21

Buy the selected items together

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; First Edition edition (February 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940322641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940322646
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Ivy Compton-Burnett is one of the most original, artful, and elegant writers of our century.
— Hilary Mantel

A radical thinker, one of the rare modern heretics.
— Mary McCarthy

No writer did more to illuminate the springs of human cruelty, suffering, and bravery.
— Angus Wilson

About the Author

Ivy Compton-Burnett (1892-1969) wrote over fifteen novels about the upper classes of the late Victorian period. The novels are constructed almost entirely of seemingly banal dialogue that eventually reveals, beneath its surface, the truths of human nature and insights into human relationships which Compton-Burnett took as her themes. Her works include Pastors and Masters, A Family and a Fortune, Manservant and Maidservant, and A House and Its Head

Francine Prose is the author of three collections of stories and ten novels. Her most recent novel, The Blue Angel, was nominated for the National Book Award.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on February 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm beginning to become addicted to these little neglected treasures that the NYRB Press is reissuing. Not only are the editions themselves little marvels (with beautiful and well-chosen color covers and gorgeous paper stock), but whoever is making the choices for which books are reissued has near-infallible taste.
A HOUSE AND ITS HEAD, like so many of Ivy Compton-Burnett's novels, reads something like a modern updating of a Greek tragedy: most of the novel is told through dialogue, there is a kind of chorus that comments on the action of the principal characters, and the plot involves murder, incest, and familial cruelty. Yet for all these borrowings Compton-Burnett paradoxically remains wonderfully sui generis: no one else has ever mastered her capability for evoking such extreme subtlety in manners that the merest cruel nuances can become evoked (if one reads carefully enough). She is also a master plotter: just when you think you've caught up with the characters' schemes, she allows the other characters in the novel to make similar realizations, and then jumps even further ahead. This is a real page-turner as well as a subtle commentary on Edwardian manners and moral monstrousness.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By bobbygw on May 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Compton-Burnett (abbreviated as CB henceforth) is one of the truly remarkable modernist writers, with a span of resonant fiction that she wrote from the 1920s through to the 1960s.

She is remarkable for her dialogue, which she uses to convey her characters' identities, their tensions, complexities, resentments, repressions and sometimes savage irony.

She herself is a savage, i.e., a wonderful Swiftian ironist/satirist, scalpel-sharp - she is reminiscent of other modernists, in particular and most especially of William Gaddis (e.g., Recognitions, Carpenter's Gothic (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin), and Jr, Henry Green (e.g., Loving; Living; Party Going (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics), the dialogue from the early plays of Harold Pinter Complete Works, Vol. 1 and sometimes Samuel Beckett.

In her fiction CB has a set of themes she returns to time and again - you could call them obsessions, in a way, from the Victorian repressive household settings, to the patriarchal, remote, powerfully domineering father/husband of the household, to the anaesthetised (dream-state-like) wives.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nonce on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ivy Compton-Burnett may not be a household name, and may even be obscure among dedicated readers of literary fiction, but that shouldn't be the case. Writing almost entirely in dialogue, Compton-Burnett uses the frame of polite conversation in Victorian England in this novel to expose deeply flawed characters willing both to commit things like adultery, murder and a whole host of other acts leading up to a casually stunning final few chapters. The delightfully slithering way Compton-Burnett's characters behave in A House and Its Head make for feverish reading if you're willing to have a little patience at the start to get to know the many characters. Compton-Burnett's work is also interesting as a precursor to William Gaddis in its brilliant use of dialogue, but you should read A House and Its Head on its own merits and you'll absolutely be rewarded for your effort.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?