Critical opinions of Nathanael West's novels : 1930-1960



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Nathanael West was the author of four short novels- all published in a single decade, but each by a different publisher-that amount to a total of 421 pages. In original editions the combined sales of The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1951) Miss Lonelyhearts (1955) A Cool Million (1954), and The Day of the Locust (1959) were between four and five thousand copies. West failed to find a popular audience in his lifetime; but contrary to the opinion of many of his critics, he was not completely ignored or misunderstood. A survey of the literary history of the four novels shows that a number of West's most discerning critics wrote about his works, particularly Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust, during the Thirties. Nevertheless, the commercial and literary success of the novels was delayed for twenty years. West's work was rediscovered in the late Fifties after the publication of The Complete Works of Nathanael West. [...]