The University of Wisconsin Press
Fiction / Literature & Criticism / Gay & Lesbian Interest
A Visit to Priapus and Other Stories
Finalist, Gay General Fiction, Lambda Literary Awards
“A Visit to Priapus is not only a lost story—and one with a scandalous, sexy theme—but also a perfect example of the lost art of storytelling itself. Wescott's observations are so beautifully rendered you'll never forget them.”
—Matthew Rettenmund, author of Boy Culture
Just as E.M. Forster’s novel of gay love, Maurice, remained unpublished throughout his lifetime, Glenway Wescott’s long story A Visit to Priapus was also destined to be a posthumous work, buried from 1938 until this century in Wescott’s massive archive of manuscripts, journals, notebooks, and letters.
The autobiographical story is about a literary man, frustrated in love, who puts aside his pride and makes a date with a young artist in Maine. Lavishly rendered in Wescott’s elegant prose, the tale is explicit where it needs to be, but—as is typical of Wescott—it is filled with descriptive beauty and introspective lessons about sex and sexuality, love and creativity.
Previously published in anthology form in the United Kingdom, A Visit to Priapus is presented for the first time in book form in America, containing previously uncollected stories, including three never before published. The result is a candid portrayal of the gifted but enigmatic writer who was famous in youth and remained a perceptive and compassionate voice throughout his long life. Drawn together from midcentury literary journals and magazines of the 1920s–30s, as well as from Wescott’s papers, the stories were inspired by his life, from childhood to old age, from Wisconsin farm country to New York, London, Germany, and Paris.
Glenway Wescott (1901–87) is well remembered for his Midwest novels, The Apple of the Eye and The Grandmothers, as well as his story collection Goodbye, Wisconsin. He is the author of the classic short novel The Pilgrim Hawk and of the World War II bestseller Apartment in Athens, in addition to two volumes of essays and two volumes of journals.
Jerry Rosco is author of the biography Glenway Westcott Personally and editor of A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984, both published by the University of Wisconsin Press. He lives in New York City.
“These pieces are concerned with the timeless tide of humanity—the characters lose something of themselves as they encounter the inexorable, shared experience of birth, reproduction, and mortality, yet the focus on their interior lives allows them to remain individuals. In thrall to the animal laws of sex and death, Wescott's work is also a meditative affirmation of our mystic, fragile sentience.”
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Of Related Interest
A Heaven of Words
Last Journals, 1956–1984
LC: 2013010427 PS
208 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Cloth $26.95 t
“Beautiful stories, each with unique merits. As a whole, they create a complex collection, arranged chronologically and spanning Wescott’s life.”
—Steven Haas, George Platt Lynes Foundation
“For readers of Glenway Wescott’s journals and The Pilgrim Hawk, here is a collection of some of his finest, most autobiographical, and in some cases, gayest fiction, some of it previously unavailable, the centerpiece being his secret masterpiece, the melancholy and life-affirming A Visit to Priapus. If you’ve never read a word of Wescott, find out here why his work keeps resurfacing.”
—Kevin Bentley, author of Wild Animals I Have Known: Polk Street Diaries and After
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