the other elizabeth taylor

Elizabeth-taylorAdam Z. Levy at The Quarterly Conversation:

One wonders why Taylor, who was hailed by Kingsley Amis as “one of the best English novelists born in this century,” has fallen so far from view in the forty years following her death. She was often faulted by her critics for placing a premium on style over content, with a hint that this style was derivative and dull. Robert Liddell jokingly referred to The Lady-Novelists Anti-Elizabeth League, whose founding members included Kay Dick, Kathleen Farrell, Kate O’Brien, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Stevie Smith, and Olivia Manning. If one were to accept any of these criticisms, it would be that Taylor can, on occasion, be dull; a few stories in You’ll Enjoy It When You Get There feel like labors of language and never quite get off the ground. But it goes without saying that Taylor’s voice is uniquely her own. As William Maxwell put it, “Everything of yours that I have ever read has been identified as yours . . . There isn’t a moment when it doesn’t come through.” Following the reissue of two of her novels, A Game of Hide and Seek and Angel, the addition of the stories collected here will rightly make the claim for her place among the very best in English letters.

Then again, in name alone, Elizabeth Taylor has always had the uncanny ability to be overlooked. You might call it unlucky that the other Elizabeth Taylor’s star-making vehicle,National Velvet, came out the year before the publication of At Mrs. Lippincote’s, in 1945. As a result of the celebrity that the actress brought to her name, search results will forever require disambiguation.

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