With the death of Penelope Fitzgerald in 2000, the literary world lost one of its finest, most original, and most beloved authors. Completed just before her death, THE MEANS OF ESCAPE was Fitzgerald's first new book since the best-selling THE BLUE FLOWER. Never before have her short stories been collected in book form, and none of them has ever appeared in the United States.
THE MEANS OF ESCAPE showcases this incomparable author at her most intelligent, her funniest, her best. Like her novels, these brilliant stories are miniature studies of the endless absurdity of human behavior. Roaming the globe and the ages, the stories travel from England to France to New Zealand and from today to the seventeenth century. Uniting them is a universal theme: the shifting balance between those who are in positions of powerby wealth, status, or classand those who are not. THE MEANS OF ESCAPE memorializes a life and a writer guided by a generous but unwavering moral gaze.
About the Author
Penelope Fitzgerald wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel OFFSHORE won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for THE BLUE FLOWER. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"
Date of Birth:December 17, 1916
Date of Death:May 3, 2000
Place of Birth:Lincoln, England
Place of Death:London, England
Education:Somerville College, Oxford University, 1939
Table of Contents
|The Means of Escape||1|
|The Red-Haired Girl||79|
|Our Lives Are Only Lent to Us||135|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Short stories that reflect Fitzgerald's style of her novels: Deceptively simple writing that captures and reveals to the reader enormously powerful thoughts, characters that seem initially simple but do and say things that leave your gasping but are never out of character. The stories all in one way or another are about power ¿ whether between two people over position, money, sex, land; or even between someone and the nominal home as in the title story "The Means of Escape." There is no sugar-coating, the stories are tough; there is no convenient tying up; the endings are often abrupt, one expecting to turn the page but finding only that Penelope's part of the story is done. The rest is up to the reader, although how the story goes on is simple enough, if the reader has learned from Penelope to be both honest and sensible to how all of us manage to deal with the reality of lives.
I READ THIS COLLECTION AFTER READING her biographhy of Mew. Fitzgerald is a diligent researcher, and she has a wry sense of humor. These stories are little more than research notes cobbled together, however. They lack human interest or imagination. Although they are detailed, they evoke no sense of place or time. This is the work of a scrupulous but not very insightful writer.