A Swallow Press Book

The Wife of Martin Guerre

By Janet Lewis

“One of the most significant short novels in English.”

Atlantic Monthly

“Janet Lewis brings the haunting qualities of fable to this novella, based on a legal case that attracted wide attention in 16th-century France and has continued to fascinate down through the years.”

Ron Hansen, The Wall Street Journal

“A masterpiece…a short novel that can run with Billy Budd, The Spoils of Poynton, Seize the Day, or any other.”

Larry McMurtry, The New York Review of Books

“Flaubertian in the elegance of its form and the gravity of its style.”

The New Yorker

Set in 16th century France, this compelling story of Bertrande de Rols is the first of the Cases of Circumstantial Evidence.


Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature.” Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982).

Formats

Paperback

978-0-8040-0321-6
Out-of-print

Additional Praise for The Wife of Martin Guerre

“When the literary history of the second millennium is written at the end of the third, in the category of dazzling American short fiction (Janet Lewis’s) Wife of Martin Guerre will be regarded as the 20th century's Billy Budd and Janet Lewis will be ranked with Herman Melville.”

The New York Times

“One of the last century’s great novels.”

A Commonplace Blog

The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis is one of the most resonant short novels I can remember. I greatly like two other books she wrote: The Trial of Soren Qvist and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron. She never got the attention she deserved.”

Evan S. Connell, Jr.