Cover image for Daphne du Maurier, haunted heiress


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PR6007.U47 Z55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Auerbach examines the writer of depth and recklessness now largely known only as the author of Rebecca , looking at the way her sharp-edged fiction, with its brutal and often perverse family relationships, has been softened in film adaptations of her work. She reads both du Maurier's life in her writings, and the sensibility of a vanished class and time that haunts the fringes of our own age.

Author Notes

Nina Auerbach is John Welsh Centennial Professor of History and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The calling card of this literary estimation of English novelist Daphne du Maurier is that the author, a professor of history and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, takes a very personal, thus accessible, approach to her subject. Auerbach, in this volume in the publisher's Personal Takes series, recalls her own history of reading du Maurier, who is best known, of course, for her 1938 novel Rebecca. In the course of this extended essay that her book becomes, the author defends her continued loyalty to a writer who is too often dismissed as lightly romantic, and, countering that pervasive critical sentiment, Auerbach insists on du Maurier's complexity as a writer. Particularly instructive is Auerbach's analysis of du Maurier's handling of both female and male characters, or more resonantly, how she develops male and female consciousnesses in her work, all of which is supported by du Maurier's personal relationships: with her father, who was also a writer, her husband, her children, and other women in her life. Ultimately, a book for her fans. --Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

In an engaging prose style, Auerbach, a scholar of Victorian and feminist studies, reveals her literary passion for du Maurier, which started at age 12 while she was attending summer camp. She devotes a chapter to du Maurier's familyÄher grandfather, novelist George du Maurier, and her father, actorÄmanager Gerald du Maurier-and how these strong men were reflected in her fiction, turning her novels and stories into a reaction against her male heritage. Auerbach also examines film versions of du Maurier's work, revealing how Hitchcock and others romanticized the dark vision of Rebecca and other fictions. While the critic's emphasis on the gloomy side of du Maurier may turn off some potential readers, she does succeed in her aim of rescuing her chosen author from the label of "romantic writer." For undergraduate and large public library collections.ÄMorris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll., Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

After enduring undue critical neglect for the better part of a half-century, du Maurier is being rediscovered as a writer of provocative fictions that explore the undersides of the psyche and the libido. Feminist scholars in particular are reckoning with the beguiling ambiguities of du Maurier's work, and of the author herself. The progeny of an illustrious if self-indulgent dynasty of English artists, du Maurier grappled with and reimagined that family legacy in her writing and in the veiled bisexuality of her life. Auerbach (Univ. of Pennsylvania) approaches her subject by probing the convolutions of personal genealogy and cultural history that give rise to du Maurier's canon, and her discussion yields rich insights. Of value is the extended discussion of works other than Rebecca, on which, despite a versatile output, du Maurier's literary recognition continues to rest. However, Auerbach's quirky style and distracting autobiographical thrust (interrogating her own lifelong fascination with the author's fiction) limit this title's effectiveness. Ultimately, the book is less accessible and satisfying to those wanting a cohesive interpretation of du Maurier than Avril Horner's recent study, Daphne du Maurier: Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination (CH, Nov'98). Large collections serving general readers and upper-division undergraduates and above. L. Babener; Central Washington University

Table of Contents

1. Reading Furtively, by Flashlightp. 1
2. The Men in Her Lifep. 21
3. Family Chroniclerp. 49
4. Life as a Manp. 73
5. Rebecca and Romancep. 101
6. Movie Starp. 125
7. "Je Reviens"p. 159
Works by Daphne du Maurierp. 163
Notesp. 165
Acknowledgmentsp. 173
Indexp. 175