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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars8
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on June 28, 2014
I rate this three stars not as an opinion on Rebecca West’s writings here but more my low opinion of myself in buying it. With weakened eyesight and carelessness I only saw “Essential Rebecca West” and immediately bought the book. I should have moved my eyes further to the right noticing “Uncollected Prose” ou will notice that the publisher put the misleading title in huge font on the cover and in tiny little print on the bottom " Uncollected Prose" I bet he hooked a few people like me in the book stores. For these are just leavings swept up after all the good stuff has been consumed. I have read only a few of the essays and reviews so far but they certainly gave me no idea of what a special writer West was. This was mostly stuff she wrote, I would guess, to pay the bills. You can see what a striking difference there is in the quality of her writing by reading the selection available on Amazon of her study of Henry James. That is great writing.
So of course, if you are a fan, and can’t get enough of West, you’ll be glad to have this book.. This was one shrewd, insightful great writer. Compared to her the intellectuals of her time were deaf, dumb and blind. Excuse me now, while I go buy Henry James, and maybe "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon."
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on October 10, 2010
Some people have more than a way with words. "The Essential Rebecca West" is a collection of work from acclaimed writer and voice Rebecca West, whose work with feminism and interviews with various figures throughout history earned her a title from the British Empire in 1959. An esteemed novelist, the work of Rebecca West proves to be an intriguing collection, making "The Essential Rebecca West" a collection that simply shouldn't be missed.
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on December 10, 2012
My advice is avoid the over-heated preface by the editor and go straight on to any and all of the marvelous essays by Rebecca West. West, who at one point was H.G. Wells's lover, has a capacity to amuse, shock and inform the reader that is astonishing -- and you will enjoy every minute of the process. You might buy at least two additional copies because you will want to keep yours and give others to good friends.
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on March 29, 2013
The Rebecca West book of essays is wonderful. The reader for the audio version was very bad. I could not listen to it.

A similar problem with the Clive James. It too is a fascinating book that deserved a better reader for the audio version.
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on May 4, 2014
When an e book behaves this strangely, my choice is to report on the writing later. My e book of the Essential Rebecca West would change font size at every selection. It looks rather like the end of chapter foot notes would reduce the font size dramatically. Efforts to restore to a more reasonable size often produced no results or made the font size smaller. By the end of the book I had the largest font size selected. Even at this size the size on my screen was less than the size indicated on the selection screen. Rather like choosing a 48 point font and getting a 30. Still plenty large but by this scale a font size of 12 will be less than 8 and very hard to read.

Rebecca West should be a better known writer. Her best work may be essential. These particular selections do not feel that essential. The sub-title, uncollected prose may serve as a warning. These essays, and reviews make good reading and form a sample of what this writer was capable. Ms West was better than these selections.

As much as I enjoyed her at once scathing and understated British invective, much of her opinions assume that the reader shares her reading list. Indeed there is very little that suggests that there may be dissenting opinions.

Her essay at the expense of Charles Dickens might delight a modern female High School student. One not enjoying the longer works of the great writer might enjoy having his secrets real life as a spoiled and papered writer exposed. Likewise she exposes those of the left who had so many excuses for Stalinist Russian only to be confronted with the truth of the Gulag. That truth was blatant for many years before Solzhenitsyn. Only after his Gulag nooks, could many admit to Joe as an evil on par with Hitler.

This is not to say that all of her criticism is about the terrible government in Soviet Russia. Her review of Churchill's Vol 1 of the The Gathering Storm contains much speculation about Churchill will cover events in the next volume. The events leading into WWII happened mostly as Winston ws out of office and being shunned by his party friends. It is West's theory that Churchill would have to write a very careful Vol 2 if he was not to come down hard on himself.

There is much to in this short book. Perhaps I would feel more kindly- the constant adjusting of the font sizes was distracting. But mostly I wonder if these pieces do not belong together. Much of this is her later work. There has to be better collections of Ms West. This one is not essential. Bottom Line, 3.5 stars for the collection and 2 for the weird manners of the e book.
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on October 7, 2010
This collection of Rebecca West's writings is a great introduction to one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. The Publisher's Weekly, sadly, received an advance copy without the full introductory material that explains how the pieces were selected - from digging through the archives at the University of Tulsa and finding previously buried treasure. If you're at all curious about Rebecca West, this is a great place to start. She has a way of oxygenating the brain, and you'll find yourself performing effortless mental gymnastics afterwards. Read it before a dinner party, and you'll see what I mean.
Helen Macleod Atkinson, co-executor of the Rebecca West Literary Estate, and editor of this collection.
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on March 11, 2015
Some of these essays were laugh-out-loud funny (Rebecca West has a sharp wit), others not so interesting to me. She is a wonderful writer with definite opinions.
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on June 9, 2015
The format was disappointing.
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