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Seduction and Betrayal

Elizabeth Hardwick

Elizabeth Hardwick’s iconic essay collection is a radical portrait of women and literature, reissued with a new introduction by Deborah Levy.

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‘Hardwick’s sentences are burned in my brain.’ – Susan Sontag

Sidelined. Betrayed. Killed off. Elizabeth Hardwick considers the history of women and literature. She imagines the lives of the Brontes, Woolf, Eliot and Plath; the fate of literary wives such as Zelda Fitzgerald and Jane Carlyle; and the stories of fictional heroines from Richardson’s Clarissa to Ibsen’s Nora. With her radiant sympathy and wisdom, Hardwick mines their childhoods, marriages, and personalities to probe the costs of sex, love, and marriage. She asks who is the seducer and who the seduced; who the victim and who the victor. Both timely and timeless, these devastatingly stylish essays are nothing less than a reckoning, dissecting relations between the sexes, women and writing, work and life.


Elizabeth Hardwick (1916-2007) was one of the greatest intellectuals of her time. A co-founder of The New York Review of Books, she authored three novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays, as well as contributing more than a hundred pieces to American publications. She was married to the poet Robert Lowell from 1949 to 1972.

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