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About the Author
Sybille Bedford (1911-2006) was born Sybille von Schoenebeck in Charlottenburg, Germany, to an aristocratic German father and a partly Jewish, British-born mother. Raised variously in Germany, Italy, France, and England, she lived with her mother and Italian stepfather after her father's death when she was seven, and was educated privately. Encouraged by Aldous Huxley, Bedford began writing fiction at the age of sixteen and went on to publish four novels, all influenced by her itinerant childhood among the European aristocracy: A Legacy (1956), A Favourite of the Gods (1963), A Compass Error (1968), and Jigsaw (1989, short-listed for the Booker Prize). She married Walter Bedford in 1935 and lived briefly in America during World War II, before returning to England. She was a prolific travel writer, the author of a two-volume biography of her friend Aldous Huxley, and a legal journalist, covering nearly one hundred trials. In 1981 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire.Brenda Wineapple's books include Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 and White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a 2014 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Wineapple lives in New York City with her husband, the composer Michael Dellaira.
"The characters are allowed to speak and see; they move about a great deal...Bedford is...interested in what they do, what they seem like to others, what they say, and what she can do to her sentences...Her genius is to make all this matter, to allow surface to suggest depth, to create excitement by playing with tone, to direct the reader toward the lives of her characters and the spirit of the age by using implication, by letting the rhythms do the work, by surprising with her diction and the texture of her prose and her dialogue. A Legacy makes clear that she is one of the finest and most original prose stylists of her age." --Colm Tóibín, Bookforum
"[W]itty and opulently beautiful...[a] richly realized historical drama....Partly ironic, partly nostalgic, A Legacy calls to mind other novels that portray the zenith and decline of an ostentatious old order. It's as funny as Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited but mercifully free of that book's snobbery and God-bothering. It has the tragicomic temperament of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, but its writing, skimmed of exposition and distilled to quicksilver impressions, is more enticing. The novel fuses the heft and layering of a 19th-century family chronicle with a sparkling, allusive prose style learned from modernism...A Legacy is [Bedford's] magnum opus, and a little harmony has been restored to literature now that it's back again in bookstores." --Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"The extraordinary feat of A Legacy is to be both an intimate family drama and an objective exposition of history...A Legacy is as perfect as a novel gets. It's written with the sentence-by-sentence intensity of a short story, the narrative sweep of a history, and the tragi-comic interest of a family drama. Moreover, it is as significant as a novel gets, full of the interest of people distant from us in time and custom but recognizably human, and effortlessly illustrative of a period and society lost to us but incalculably important for the world we live in. Read it." --Robert Minto, Open Letters Monthly