I see that Janet Malcolm has died, the great mistress of long-form, analytical writing for the New Yorker. Her obituaries so far focus on the controversies surrounding her books, In the Freud Archives and The Journalist and the Murderer, both of which provoked immense, long-lasting critique, and neglect the fact that her first book, published in 1980, was a brilliant book of her essays about the history of photography, Diana & Nikon: Essays on the Aesthetic of Photography, writing about photography as an art form when this was still unfashionable, studying the subject through studies of the work of individual photographers, who she subjected to subtle semi-psychological probing (it is not surprising to discover that her father was a Czech psychiatrist and her second book on Psychoanalysis). She also had an interest in Bloomsbury, writing a long article about Charleston in 1995 under the title ‘A House of One’s Own’ (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1995/06/05/a-house-of-ones-own), which, like all her writing, was incredibly deeply informed, subtly investigative, beautifully well written and full of her own, well-considered critical judgments of people as well as their writing. I never met her, and now can’t, but I admired her greatly for her writings.
2 thoughts on “Janet Malcolm”
Like you, I have read and liked her writing over the years, and indulged in all the criticism and gossipy nasty comments and speculations on her work. I would like to read her essay on Charleston and wonder if you might know where I might find it. (In one of the essay compendiums or in a specific journal?) Thank you Charles, for your varied and always interesting posts, and any help you may provide.
Dear Leslie, It’s freely available (but you have to register) on https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1995/06/05/a-house-of-ones-own. Charles