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Alison Lurie Biography

(1926– ), Love and Friendship, Imaginary Friends, The War between the Tates, Real People

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American writer, born in Chicago, educated at Radcliffe College. Lurie has chronicled contemporary North American life in her elegantly composed and witty novels. Like Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge, Lurie shows great skill in relating the idiosyncrasies of university life and charting intellectual fashions. Love and Friendship (1962) concerns the rivalries within a small New England campus community; Imaginary Friends (1967) features the attempts of two sociologists to penetrate a religious cult in upstate New York; and The War between the Tates (1974) describes marital strife alongside student unrest. The world of writers and artists is examined in novels such as Real People (1969), set in an artistic community, and The Truth about Lorin Jones (1988), which casts an ironic eye over the New York art establishment and feminist movement, as an art historian finds her identity entwined with that of her research subject. Although most of Lurie's novels are concerned with the East Coast, The Nowhere City (1965) depicts the initial estrangement from, and gradual assimilation into, California life of a far from West Coast couple, and Foreign Affairs (1984) is set in London where several Americans find themselves tested by their stay in England; they include a professor interested in children's folk-rhymes and a waste disposal engineer in search of his ancestors. In Only Children (1979) Lurie wryly observes the behaviour of several adults, mainly through their children's eyes, on a rural holiday during the Depression. Other works include The Language of Clothes (1981), and Not in Front of the Grown-Ups (1990), a study of children's literature and children's books. She has also edited Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales (1991) and The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (1993).

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