Unattributed Welty Blurb on The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

Posted On September 26, 2016
Categories News & Notes

A paperback printing of The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald published by in London, by Wm. Collins and issued by Fontana Books as a “Continental Edition” in 1971, the same year as the American publication (February), was found at Shakespeare and Company, Kilometer Zero, Paris, in May 2016. The three blurbs on the back cover are from the Sunday Times (London), Newsweek, and the New York Times. On this British paperback, the third blurb is a mash-up of Welty’s page-one review for the New York Times Book Review: “Lew Archer from the start has been a distinguished creation—here he plunges into a maze of the past … and in the maze there lives a monster; his name is Murder.”

In the New York Times Book Review, Welty writes,

[Another sort of legend] is the medieval tale of romance and the faerie.

It is exactly what Archer plunges into when he enters this case. Finding his way, through their lies and fears, into other people’s obsessions and dreams, he might as well be in a fairy tale with them. The mystery had handed him what amounts to a set of impossible tasks: Find the door that opens the past. Unravel the ever-tangling threads of time. Rescue the stolen child from fleeing creatures who appear to be under a spell and who forbid him to speak to them. Meet danger from the aroused elements of fire and water. Beware the tower.

But Archer’s own role in their fairy tale is clear to him: from the time he fed the blue jays with the little boy, he never had a chance. There is a maze of the past to be entered and come out alive, bringing the innocent to safety. And in the maze there lives a monster; his name is Murder. (1)

… Archer from the start has been a distinguished creation. (29)

Work Cited
Welty, Eudora. Rev. of The Underground Man. By Ross Macdonald. New York Times Book Review 14 Feb. 1971: 1, 28-30. Print.