Group Portrait

by Nicholas Delbanco. Morrow, $10.00. Mr. Delbanco argues that the sprawling assemblage along the Kent-Sussex border of Conrad, Crane, Ford, James, and Wells constituted, between 1900 and 1914, a literary community as important as the Bloomsbury group or the Americans who gathered in Paris in the 1920s. This case as a whole is never quite convincing, but Mr. Delbanco’s study of aesthetic conflicts and alliances within the group is interesting, often enlightening, and thick with well-chosen quotations. The book should do what the author has in mind when he gives, as his “last and best” reason for writing it, “I love to read these novelists, and hope that others will.”