The James Purdy Society

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Selected Comments on

James Purdy's Work



"singular American visionary"
New York Times
August 30,1998

"I am convinced that, long after my death, James Purdy will come to be recognized as one of the greatest writers America has ever produced."
Dame Edith Sitwell

"Purdy is a creative genius who's has given literature in English some of the most impressive visionary novels of the past half-century."
Times Literary Supplement
April 7, 1995

"[Purdy] is a writer of  the highest rank in originality, insight, and power and if, in the year 2000, there is a grain of consciousness left among my dust I will still believe it."
Dorothy Parker

"an authentic American genius"
Gore Vidal

"the closest to a classical American colloquial"
Paul Bowles

"a genius"
Tennessee Williams

"style as fluid and natural as a man thinking to himself in the dark with an innate sense of form and great powers of concentration.  He knows the worst but he knows something else very good, very real, and he is loyal to that without question."
Katherine Anne Porter

"a master of vernacular"
Marianne Moore

"James Purdy's characters and situations linger in the memory."
Langston Hughes

"James Purdy is the best kind of original genius of our day.  His insight into the diabolical cruelties and horrors that lurk all the time under our skin is as startling as his insight into the angelic tenderness and protectiveness that also exist in the same hiding place.  Few there be that recognize either of these things but he reveals them.   It has about it the simplified concentration we get in the Greek tragedies, especially in Sophocles and Euripides."
John Cowper Powys

"a magnificent simplicity"
Angus Wilson

"extraordinarily powerful, lit by a hard light, and observed as if through the unblinking eye of tiger or a child. He deals with the archetypal passions; they strike his characters with the sudden force of a natural disaster to produce the inexplicable acts which the ancients attributed to possession by a god but for which nowadays Man must somehow bear the responsibility."
James Michie

"Lorca spoke of an audience who wish 'not only for form, but for the marrow of form.'  Mr. Purdy produces that marrow of form.  And he is like one of those draughtsmen of whom Baudelaire said that they are "the abstractors of the quintessence" There is never a sentence too much, a word too much. His works are not the production of imagination alone.  They are the raw material of life itself, shaped by a great artist."
Dame Edith Sitwell

"James Purdy has only rarely received his due in his native America. I have always felt that a small perpetually radioactive particle of genius irradiates the mass of the work he has produced over the years."
Francis King


"In 1956, James Purdy published Don't Call Me By My Right Name and Other Stories, and in the years since, he has produced some of the most remarkable stories, novels and plays in the English language.  Praised by artists as diverse as Dame Edith Sitwell, Gore Vidal and John Waters for his evocative diction, emotional subtlety , and disturbingly baroque narratives, Purdy has created an emotional, psychological landscape uniquely American in its depiction of fear, love, loss, and violence."
Michael Bronski





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