Nathanael West

(2251 words)
  • Gina Wisker (University of Brighton)

His books should, I think, be classified as Cautionary Tales, parables about a Kingdom of Hell whose ruler is not so much the Father of Lies as the Father of Wishes. Shakespeare gives a glimpse of this hell in Hamlet, and Dostoievsky has a lengthy description in Notes from the Underground. ...West's descriptions of Inferno have the authenticity of first-hand experience: he has certainly been there, and the reader has the uncomfortable feeling that his was not a short visit. (W. H. Auden: The Dyer's Hand).

Born Nathaniel von Wallenstein Weinstein the author later changed his name to Nathanael West because, he told his friend the poet William Carlos Williams, “Horace Greeley said, “Go West, young m…

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Wisker, Gina. "Nathanael West". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]