Review of Proud Youth in FYI, Time Inc., September 11, 1953:
For some seven years, TIME Art Editor Alexander Eliot has climbed out of bed at 6:30 in the morning, spun a few fictional situations through his mind while strolling through Central Park, and arrived at the T & L Bldg. by eight o’clock for a session behind his typewriter before staring this regular day’s work.
Result: his first novel, Proud Youth, published this week by Farrar, Straus and Young. Written with strong poetic undercurrents and a Gide-like simplicity of style, Proud Youth explores the spiritual and physical impulses of a young brother and sister in love with each other. Says the Saturday Review: “Because of TIME’s belief in, and practice of, anonymous journalism, Eliot has spent seven years on this break for anonymity and is just about prepared for anything. Which he had better be, since one of the themes of Proud Youth is brother-sister inces” Another subject for controversy in Eliot’s novel: one of the major characters, a Roman Catholic priest, who as the family’s friend and confessor pits his conviction and authority “against the enormous energy, flexibility and daring of youth.”
A descendant of many illustrious New Englanders, including Harvard President Charles William Eliot, Novelist Eliot was born in Cambridge, educated as North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, once worked in the promotion and sales department of the Associated American Artists. In 1942, he came to Time Inc in MOT’s Cinema Production Department , left the company the following year, and returned in 1945 as a TIME writer. Artist as well as critic, Eliot designed the dust jacket for his book after completing the nine drafts of his novel “I had to learn to write fiction, but I hope my second novel won’t take quite so long”). Meanwhile, there is still the question of his first novel, which may become a fall conversation piece as its main theme, I believe, says Eliot, not adolescence or incest or religion, but a struggle between the forces of life and those of death in the soul of the hero.”