Dust jacket for Parthian Words by Margaret Storm Jameson (1891–1986), a prolific English journalist and author, known for her novels and reviews. This is the first US edition published in 1970 or 1971 by Harper & Row. It is credited to Amy Isbey Duevell, who also designed the jacket for Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. The author name and title in all-caps Futura fett and Futura Black emerge from a cacophonic pile of hand-drawn or cut-out glyphs.
This short book offers the dispassionate but sharp-tongued comments on the novel today by an old fiction hand, a personal exercise of taste and judgement, backed by a life interest in the history and methods of literary criticism. It reviews the evergreen question of the death of the novel, so often and confidently announced; the difficulties, peculiar to our nihilistic and often brutal age, that press on the contemporary novelist; the effect on him and his work of the technological revolution; his increasing diffidence in face of the overwhelming prestige of science in our day; the changing language of fiction; the novel as an art form; the nouveau roman, and its most sophisticated and more esoteric cousin, the nouvelle critique; the eruption into common daylight of pornographic fiction; the use and misuse of censorship. It attempts to decide whether the traditional or classic novel has a future and what sort of future. Though it may offend a great many solemn persons it has not been written to give offence, but in a serious effort to reach some positive conclusions about the health, the moral and aesthetic worth, of the novel in a day when our minds are, as never before, at the mercy of their worst dreams.