Psychoanalysis and Voyeurism in Hitchcock’s Rear …
Shortly after The Day of the Locust was published, West met and married Eileen McKenney, who had served as the subject of Ruth McKenney’s popular New Yorker magazine sketches that were adapted as the play My Sister Eileen (1940). Eight months after their marriage, both were killed in an automobile accident.
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS - Cheryl Strayed
receives letters from uneducated people asking for advice on how to cure suffering that he soon realizes is incurable—at least in the absence of a religious faith that human existence, including or especially its suffering, has a transcendent meaning and purpose. Modern man can neither believe in such a meaning and purpose, nor yet dispense with the need for that belief: this is his tragedy and his predicament, and it is a truth revealed to Miss Lonelyhearts by the letters that he receives daily. He tries nonetheless to resolve the contradiction between the impossibility of and the need for belief by involving himself, Christ-like in his own fevered imagination, in the lives of his correspondents, and is shot dead for his efforts (the title of the chapter in which he dies is ”Miss Lonelyhearts Has a Religious Experience”). We live in a world in which no good deed—or compassion and good feeling—goes unpunished.
After the humorist S. J. Perelman married West’s sister Laura, the three of them bought a farm in Pennsylvania, where West wrote his second novel, Miss Lonelyhearts. Although favorably reviewed, Miss Lonely-hearts was one of the last books brought out by Liveright before that publisher declared bankruptcy. As a result, few copies were distributed under the Liveright imprint, and a second printing of the novel sold poorly.
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Nathanael West (1903-1940), was born in New York City as Nathan Weinstein to Ashkenazi Jewish parents from Lithuania. A high school dropout, he got into Tufts College and Brown University through ruses. At Brown he became friends with S. J. Perelman, who was to become a major humor writer and eventually his brother-in-law. (Another talented in-law, Ruth McKenney, wrote My Sister Eileen, about West’s wife, which was the basis for the long-running Broadway hit.) After graduation Weinstein went to Paris for three months and changed his name. In the late twenties, he worked as night manager in a New York hotel, an experience that inspired the character of Homer Simpson and the incident with Romola Martin in The Day of the Locust. His first novel, The Dream Life of Balso Snell, was published in 1931. He moved to Hollywood in 1933 to be a scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures. That year the novella Miss Lonelyhearts was published, followed in 1934 by his third novel, A Cool Million. Then, while writing screenplays for B-movies to make a living because his fiction did not sell well, he wrote The Day of the Locust.
SparkNotes: The Day of the Locust: Plot Overview
The Day of the Locust, the novel by Nathanael West, with an introduction by David Thomson, and twenty photographs by Lucy Gray, July 2013.
Rear Window Film & Psychoanalysis
"If, as David Thomson suggests in his introduction, The Day of the Locust is Hollywood seen by an eclipse of the sun, Lucy Gray’s photographs capture exactly that eerie light, which glances but doesn’t probe, shimmers but doesn’t flatter. It’s as if the separate shadows of all the book’s desperate wannabes are stripped away, mixed up together, and evenly smeared over the surface of their world like smog residue. Gray catches the marvellous cast of characters—Faye Greener and her father, the peddler-clown Harry, the dwarf Abe Kusich, the sap Tod Hackett, the dupe Homer Simpson, the dude Earle Shoop—at moments when they are oblivious, either in the grip of a dream or spinning in a vortex of need or rage, when the gap between what they are and what they dream is most pathetically exposed."
— Alissa Valles,