Angier, Carole 1943-

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ANGIER, Carole 1943-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced an-jeer; born October 30, 1943, in London, England; daughter of Jussy (an insurance consultant) and Liesl (a homemaker; maiden name, Kelsen) Brainin; children: Thomas. Education: McGill University, B.A., 1964; Oxford University, B.A., 1966, M.A., 1971; Cambridge University, M.Litt., 1980.

ADDRESSES: Home—Ascott-u-Wychwood, England. Agent—Anthony Sheil Associates, 43 Doughty St., London WCIN 2LF, England. E-mail—[email protected] warwick.ac.uk.

CAREER: Educator and author. Worked in the theatre, 1966-69; tutor in philosophy, Cambridge University, 1975, and University of Sussex, 1975-76; extramural tutor in philosophy and English literature at Oxford University and University of Bristol, 1976-83; Open University, Milton Keynes, England, tutor and consultant, 1980—.

AWARDS, HONORS: Canada Council fellow, 1969-75; Southern Arts grant, 1986; Royal Literary Fund fellow, 2002.

WRITINGS:

Jean Rhys (biography), Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Jean Rhys: Life and Work, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.

The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2002.

Also author of plays, including an adaptation of Jean Rhys's novel Good Morning, Midnight, 1984, and two original plays for radio, 1986. Book reviewer for British periodicals, including London Review of Books, New Society, and Women's Review.

SIDELIGHTS: In her 1985 biography Jean Rhys, Carole Angier chronicles both the life and writings of the early twentieth-century British novelist. Rhys, described in a Village Voice review by Wendy Kaminer as a "gifted writer" but a "tormented, self-destructive woman," wrote novels about her personal anguish and, in Kaminer's opinion, "made an art of suffering." Observing that "Angier reveals the growing self-knowledge (and artistic control)" gained by Rhys and ultimately reflected in her best works, Kaminer determined Jean Rhys to be "an astute and eloquent biography."

Angier has continued her fascination with the Dominican-born Rhys in a more expansive work, 1990's Jean Rhys: Life and Work, which extends the discussion of Rhys's novels as well as her troubled personal life. Noting of the 700-plus-page biography that Angier affects a "moralizing tone that could hardly be less in keeping with Rhys's own amoral, almost absurdist vision," New Republic contributor Ann Hulbert commented that "it's clear that the writer has found not a soul mate in her biographer, but … a mother earnestly intent on understanding her wayward daughter." However, a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed Angier's detailed work an "impressive study."

In her 2002 biography The Double Bond: Primo Levi Angier collects Levi's poetry, memoirs, and essays to help tell his life story. Levi was a survivor of Auschwitz who became a celebrated author, only to commit suicide at the age of sixty-seven. In its 900 pages, this biography chronicles Levi's life and speculates that severe depression, stemming back to the Holocaust, was the main cause of his death. Peter Conrad, a critic for the Observer, pointed out that Angier demonstrates how Levi's books can be read as a series of suicide notes, and went on to call Angier's biography "exhaustive" and "wearyingly long." Conrad also noted that while Angier did extensive research, she "aspires to know everything about a subject whom she can never know at all." A writer for the New York Times felt that Angier has written, not a biography, but the "story of a wound" and seems "unable to touch something without making it a little confusing." However, Frederick Raphael, reviewing the work for the Spectator, praised The Double Bond, calling it an "immensely useful source of intelligence and detailed fact." A Kirkus critic agreed, describing Angier's book as "a rich, nuanced portrait of a man who lived through the worst horrors imaginable." Kenneth Baker of the San Fransisco Chronicle perhaps summed up Angier's work on this biography best when he wrote that "In the book's final pages … the reader recognizes Angier's decade of devotion to Levi as a rescue mission, to save him and his work once and for all from the stigma of suicide."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

American Scholar, spring, 1992, Evelyn Toynton, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 298.

Booklist, April 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of The Double Bond, p. 1296.

Economist, April 13, 2002, Ian Thomson, review of The Double Bond.

Guardian, March 9, 2002.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of The Double Bond, p. 375.

Library Journal, May 1, 1991, Janice Braun, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 76; April 1, 2002, Gene Shaw, review of The Double Bond, p. 104.

New Republic, February 17, 1992, Ann Hulbert, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 38.

New Stateman and Society, November 30, 1990, Michael Wood, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 34.

New Yorker, December 2, 1991, Naomi Bliven, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 160.

New York Times, June 30, 1991, Suzanne Berne, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 20; June 13, 2002, Janet Maslin, review of The Double Bond, p. E9.

New York Times Book Review, June 23, review of The Double Bond, p. 22.

Observer, March 24, 2002, Peter Conrad, review of The Double Bond.

Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1991, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 54.

San Fransisco Chronicle, May 26, 2002, Kenneth Baker, "Elements of Genius."

Spectator, February 6, 1999, p. 29; April 6, 2002, Frederic Raphael, review of The Double Bond, p. 29.

Sunday Telegraph, March 24, 2002, Theo Richmond, "Rising above the Horror."

Sunday Times, March 24, 2002, Paul Bailey, "The Battle against Despair." Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 1990, Hilary Mantel, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 1257.

Village Voice, May 27, 1986.

World Literature Today, summer, 1992, Aparajita Sagar, review of Jean Rhys: Life and Work, p. 521.*