As poet, prose writer, and interpreter of Europe, Kay Boyle (1902-1992) made instrumental contributions to modernism in both her writing and her living. While other modernists declared the supremacy of aesthetics over politics, Boyle also made her art usable in the political arena when her democratic convictions required such a commitment. In this pragmatic gesture she defiantly stepped outside of the modernist coterie. Her consistent critical and creative engagement with her time calls for a fresh appreciation.
Kay Boyle for the Twenty-First Century: New Essays seeks to reclaim Boyle for a new audience. Boyle's literary qualities, displayed throughout her voluminous production, stand side by side with her steadfastness as a democratic and critically engaged citizen. As author and woman, as witness and mother, she is making her way back into the ever-adjusting mainstream of American literature.