“One of the most significant short novels in English.”
“Lewis wrote her vibrant novella in 1941 as the first in her Cases of Circumstantial Evidence trilogy, which Swallow Press has brought back into print. The mystery here is not Martin’s identity, but why Janet Lewis remains obscure.”
“Flaubertian in the elegance of its form and the gravity of its style.”
The New Yorker
“Ohio University Press/Swallow Press is reissuing all three novels in Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series in new editions with fancy new covers. They’re gorgeous.”
The Book Haven
In this new edition of Janet Lewis’s classic short novel, The Wife of Martin Guerre, Swallow Press executive editor Kevin Haworth writes that Lewis’s story is “a short novel of astonishing depth and resonance, a sharply drawn historical tale that asks contemporary questions about identity and belonging, about men and women, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.” Originally published in 1941, The Wife of Martin Guerre has earned the respect and admiration of critics and readers for over sixty years.
Based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France, this story of Bertrande de Rols is the first of three novels making up Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence suite (the other two are The Trial of Sören Qvist and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron).
Swallow Press is delighted and honored to offer readers beautiful new editions of all three Cases of Circumstantial Evidence novels, each featuring a new introduction by Kevin Haworth.
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). More info →
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Since the appearance in print of her early poems over seventy-five years ago, the poetry of Janet Lewis has grown in quiet acclaim and popularity. Although she is better known as a novelist of historical fiction, her first and last writings were poems. With the publication of her selected poems, Swallow Press celebrates the distinguished career of one of its most cherished authors.
Lewis’ only collection of short fiction was first published in 1946, but remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the ’30s and ’40s, these midcentury gems focus on the quiet cycles connecting youth and age, despair and hope, life and death.
Kenneth Rexroth wrote: “Janet Lewis uses reason to veil and adorn the flesh of feeling and intuition. This is the way the greatest poetry has always been written.” The poems in this collection range over a period of 60 years. The style is spare, direct, cutting to the core of subject. Richness of intelligence and a concern for the human has also characterized every phase of Lewis’ development.
Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past.