Quartet by Jean Rhys
New York : Harper & Row, 1957. First US Edition. Hardcover. 186 pages ; 21 cm. $4.95 dust jacket unclipped. Very good copy in original dust jacket with unmarked pages and square binding.
"... a terrifying insight and a terrific— an almost lurid!—passion for stating the case of the underdog.. " —Ford Madox Ford
Marya Zelli—young, sensitive, too much the inhabitant of her own closed-in world of emotions—finds herself suddenly alone and penniless in Paris. Her husband, Stefan, has been arrested and jailed for petty crimes she has barely suspected and now cannot bring herself to acknowledge. Helpless, contemptuous of her own weaknesses, she accepts the proffered hospitality of Lois and H. J. Heidler, an English couple who live on the fringes of the artistic world: Lois, logical, strong-willed, "insensitive to the point of stupidity—or was it cruelty?"; and Hugh, virile and vaguely brutal. Although Marya perceives the dangers of dependence, she is powerless to seek an alternative.
A strange complicity exists between the man and his wife, and Marya is soon entangled in a bizarre sexual and psychological relationship which frightens, threatens, and at the same time fascinates her.
First published in 1928, Quartet succeeds as a subtle and powerful examination of a woman born to be exploited, born to suffer. Its reappearance will expand the audience that discovered Jean Rhys through Good Morning, Midnight.
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