Cover image for The locust have no king
The locust have no king
Powell, Dawn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Yarrow Press, 1990.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Scribner, 1948.
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In this classic satire by the writer Gore Vidal once called "our best comic novelist", Dawn Powell takes on the New York publishing world and dissects it "with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection". Frederick Olliver, obscure historian and writer, is having an affair with the restively married, beautiful, and hugely successful playwright, Lyle Gaynor. Powell sets in motion a see-saw as Olliver's new book becomes a surprising success just as Lyle's Broadway career comes unraveled.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the literary circles of Powell's (1897-1965) post-WW II Manhattan, ``art is a cigarette ad,'' money and insincerity go hand-in-hand, a friend is an opportunity to talk about oneself,stet comma for clarity/pk and the word identifying what lovers do for each other is ``punish.'' Frederick Olliver, a poor and introverted medievalist, loves Lyle Gaynor, married socialite and successful playwright. But each mistakes every offer of affection for malice, and eventually takes on the worst aspects of the other's character, reversing socioeconomic standing as well. This long-out-of-print novel, first published in 1948, displays Powell's ear for incriminating dialogue and gift for comic exaggeration, but her pacing is as inexorable as that of a factory, mass-producing ironic situations until the reader is no longer amused. The cynicism fuelling Powell's wit is undercut by the ultimate romanticism of her plot. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Powell's brutal parody of New York intelligentsia was briefly brought back into print by the short-lived Yarrow Press in 1990 (Classic Returns, LJ 2/1/90), marking the first of many of her titles to be reprinted by several publishers. LJ's reviewer praised the book for its "crisp, terse prose" and its "sharply and concisely sketched characters" (LJ 4/15/48). This is one of Powell's finest novels and better than anything currently on the best sellers lists. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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