Post 6: Go West, Young Man.

In the last few weeks since I’ve returned from my trip I’ve been delving into the materials I found in addition to working through supplementary and secondary writings on West. Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism book has been interesting and I hope to use it in my thesis as I think West’s work anticipates many trends Jameson discusses. Additionally, I’ve been re-reading many of the letters West sent that were collected at the archives I went to. Lots of fun details to be found in the exchanges between him and critical writers of the 20th century like William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Josephine Herbst.

On my trip, I also read a biography on West and his wife, Eileen Mckenney. Seems like contrary to the bleak, cynical outlook in his novels, West is cordial, friendly, and generally upbeat in his letters and personal texts.

In the upcoming final weeks of my work, I am going to be watching film adaptations of West’s work, re-reading his novels once more, and looking into the large book-length studies on West again.


  1. ejmillman says:

    I think Yale’s Beinecke Library was incredible and was fascinating to visit because of its history and its interesting architecture, however I think Brown’s archive was my favorite to visit because I found the most relevant materials there.
    Yes, I have found a good unpublished work which I intend to use in my thesis! I am also hoping to use his lesser known and (mostly) unpublished short stories and screenplays too.
    Thanks for your interest in my project.

  2. ejmillman says:

    Thank you, that article does help! I appreciate your recomendation of it and I’ll be sure to include it in my work on my thesis. I have encountered a few other articles and studies by Veitch so I look forward to reading this one. I have read the issues of Contact magazine that William Carlos Williams worked on with West as well as looking into biographies on Williams to see relevant details regarding West and the magazine. I have not read much on Hammett, I will be sure to look into him!

  3. oliviavandewoude says:

    Hi Edward,

    Thanks for sharing updates on your fascinating project about Nathanael West. I think it is fantastic that you have read a biography on West and his wife, Eileen. I am sure that this text provided you great context for your Honors Thesis. I was wondering if you had read any texts about other figures in West’s life, particularly folks in his writing group such as William Carlos Williams or Dashiell Hammett. If not, you might be interested in reading Jonathan Veitch’s article, “”Lousy with pure / reeking with stark”: Nathanael West, William Carlos Williams, and the Textualization of the “Real.”” This article gives an interesting view on West’s connection to William Carlos Williams and the magazine they edited together called Contact. Learning about West’s relationships to his contemporaries might give you a more detailed picture of his life and writings. Hope this helps, and best of luck with the rest of your thought-provoking Honors Thesis!


  4. lhcampopiano says:

    Hello Edward,

    I’ve followed your research progress thus far with great interest. It’s very fun to see a good balance between theoretical reading and archival research. Two questions. What was your favorite archive to visit and why? Also, have you found anything in West’s broader (ie nonpublished) writings that furthers your understanding of him as an influential proto-postmodernist?



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