Cover image for Novels, 1930-1942
Novels, 1930-1942
Powell, Dawn.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Novels. Selections
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the United States by Penguin Putnam, [2001]

Physical Description:
1068 pages ; 21 cm.
Dance night -- Come back to Sorrento -- Turn, magic wheel -- Angels on toast -- A time to be born.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3531.O936 A6 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Dawn Powell--a vital part of literary Greenwich Village from the 1920s through the 1960s--was the tirelessly observant chronicler of two very different worlds: the small-town Ohio where she grew up and the sophisticated Manhattan to which she gravitated. If her Ohio novels are more melancholy and compassionate, her Manhattan novels, exuberant and incisive, sparkle with a cast of writers, show people, businessmen, and hustling hangers-on. All show rich characterization and a flair for the gist of complex social situations. A playful satirist, an unsentimental observer of failed hopes and misguided longings, Dawn Powell is a literary rediscovery of rare importance. In this, one of two volumes collecting nine novels, The Library of America presents the best of Powell's fiction.

Dance Night (1930), Powell's own favorite among her works, is a surprisingly frank treatment of obsessive longing set in an Ohio factory town during the 1920s. Come Back to Sorrento (1932; originally published as The Tenth Moon ), a compelling study of frustrated aspirations, tells the story of a woman whose friendship with a music teacher awakens her sense of her life's wasted potential.

With Turn, Magic, Wheel (1936), a whirlwind tour of Manhattan's literary world, Powell reinvented herself as a satirical writer. Her treatment of the "city of perpetual distraction" captures the allure of Manhattan with a lightness and wit to be found in all her New York novels. Angels on Toast (1940), whose farcical pace recalls screwball comedy, is a shrewd portrait of the adulterous misadventures of two salesmen. In A Time To Be Born (1942), set during the months before America's entry into World War II, Powell portrays the monstrously egotistical Amanda Keeler Evans--one of her most wickedly barbed creations.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

Author Notes

Dawn Powell (1896-1965), the author of numerous novels, plays, and story collections, was a vital part of the pre- and postwar Greenwich Village literary scene.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Powell was a noteworthy novelist of mid-20th-century America whose satirical observations and keen sense of the complexities of social relationships unfolded into a perceptive chronicle of the two milieus she knew so well the melancholy frustrations of small-town life in Ohio and the brutal sophistication of uptown Manhattan. She enjoyed a reputation in Greenwich Village literary circles for her wit, humor, compassion, and somewhat hedonistic lifestyle. And yet, despite a steady stream of publications throughout her career, she never achieved the popularity, critical acclaim, and financial security she so richly deserved and so desperately sought. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Page (Dawn Powell: A Biography, LJ 9/15/98), Powell's writings have been rescued from literary obscurity and added to the prestigious Library of America series. Collected here are nine novels spanning her prolific career. Volume 1 includes Dance Night; Come Back to Sorrento; Turn, Magic Wheel; Angels on Toast; and A Time To Be Born. Included in Volume 2 are My Home Is Far Away, The Locusts Have No King, The Wicked Pavilion, and The Golden Spur. Page's chronology of Powell's career and his extensive chapter notes promote a deeper understanding of this distinctive literary voice. Together with her diaries and selected letters, these volumes firmly establish Powell's contribution to American literature. Each novel is fairly short, making this set an attractive option for book club members seeking new material. For all serious literature collections. Denise S. Sticha, Murrysville Community Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Dance Nightp. 1
Come Back to Sorrentop. 205
Turn, Magic Wheelp. 371
Angels on Toastp. 557
A Time To Be Bornp. 767
Chronologyp. 1045
Note on the Textsp. 1057
Notesp. 1061