Friday, October 19, 2012

More on John Trevena

The more work we do on our 100th anniversary edition of John Trevena's Sleeping Waters, the clearer it's becoming what an important rediscovery we've made.  Here are some more comments from 20th century reviewers, dug up by Prof. Gerald Monsman:

"Russia has produced the most powerful novelists. Beside Turgenief and Dostoievsky we know of no American and but one Englishman who is fairly entitled to a place. John Trevena alone writes with the force, the dynamic power of the brooding, Slavic titans. However, there is much else than mere power in a great novel; the gift for tragedy does not solely make for greatness, and Trevena has more than power. . . . There is a touch of mysticism in Mr. Trevena's books . . . . This quailty, combined with his always incisive and sometimes relentless force, and thorough workmanship, enables him to produce novels that are, we believe, to have an honored and permanent classification in literature." -- Los Angeles Times, review of Wintering Hay (1912), Dec. 6, 1914

"The story is magnificently told. . . . The vividness and monstrosity of the characters remind one of the Brontes." -- Chicago Tribune, review of Sleeping Waters, Jan. 23, 1915

How about a contest?  Can you think of any English writer of any time period who was as prolific and as acclaimed by the critics as John Trevena, but who has fallen into total obscurity, with not one book in print (before the Valancourt editions, of course)?  We can't.....


  1. I'll take the bait. How about Charles Lever? He's one of those Anglo-Irish authors you may want to check out. At one time Lever was as popular as Dickens. Although he wrote over 30 novels and was immensely popular with the critics and the public (at least early in his career), he's been out of print since the turn of the 20th century. A fairly recent monograph called him "The Lost Victorian".

  2. Yes, Lever's definitely neglected -- he'd probably fit the bill. Forrest Reid, whom we've published, also fits.