Books: Gingerly Removing the Veil

JOSEPHINE HERBST by Elinor Langer; Atlantic-Little, Brown; 374 pages; $19.95

"Josie, I'd love you whether you wrote or not," said Saul Bellow in a letter to Josephine Herbst. He had plenty of company. During her long literary life Herbst attracted such disparate admirers as Maxwell Anderson, Katherine Anne Porter, Ernest Hemingway, James T. Farrell and John Cheever. When she died in 1969 at the age of 76, Critic Alfred Kazin, who had once dismissed her work as "desperate pedestrianism," wrote that he had never known any other writer who was "so solid, so joyous, so giving."

Elinor Langer's evocative, infatuated biography...

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