James Branch Cabell


Biography of James Branch Cabell

James Branch Cabell (April 14, 1879 – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when his works were most popular. For Cabell, veracity was "the one unpardonable sin, not merely against art, but against human welfare." Interest in Cabell declined in the 1930s, a decline that has been attributed in part to his failure to move out of his fantasy niche. Alfred Kazin said that "Cabell and Hitler did not inhabit the same universe". Although escapist, Cabell's works are ironic and satirical. H. L. Mencken disputes Cabell's claim to romanticism, characterized him as "really the most acidulous of all the anti-romantics. His gaudy heroes ... chase dragons precisely as stockbrockers play golf." Cabell saw art as an escape from life, but once the artist creates his ideal world, he finds that it is made up of the same elements that make the real one.

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