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A Swallow Press Book

The Trial of Sören Qvist

By Janet Lewis
Introduction by Kevin Haworth

"The perfect novel of its genre."

New York Times

“Probably (The Trial of Sören Qvist) is the most perfet of Janet Lewis’ novels, and among the most perfect of any novels.”

Fred Inglis, Critque: Studies in Modern Fiction

"A harmonious retelling of a seventeenth-century legend concerning a saintly pastor, his cherished daughter, and the villain who betrayed them…. Miss Lewis's artfully simple prose achieves the effect of an ancient, lovingly illuminated missal."

New Yorker

“Lewis has retold a true legend of Denmark in unadorned, free, and exciting prose. Here is a gruesomely fascinating story of such circumstantial evidence as to make the reader want to cry out in protest.”

Saturday Review of Literature

Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past. As in Lewis’s best-known novel, The Wife of Martin Guerre, the plot derives from Samuel March Phillips’s nineteenth-century study, Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence, in which this British legal historian considered the trial of Pastor Sören Qvist to be the most striking case.

Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature.” Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982).   More info →

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Cover of The Trial of Sören Qvist

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Paperback
978-0-8040-1144-0
Retail price: $14.95, T.
Release date: July 2013
256 pages · 5¼ × 8 in.
Rights: World except United Kingdom

Electronic
978-0-8040-4054-9
Release date: July 2013
256 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for The Trial of Sören Qvist

“You know from the beginning what has happened– that a man has been executed for a murder no one in the small Danish community believes he committed. Yet circumstantial evidence points to him. By the end, he has convinced himself he is indeed guilty, and would rather die with a good conscience, forgiven by God, than struggle to live.”

Meredith Sue Willis’s Books for Readers

“I believe that there is nothing in my account of the Parson of Vejlby which might not have happened as I tell it. He is one of a great company of men and women who have preferred to lose their lives rather than accept a universe without plan or without meaning.”

Janet Lewis on The Trial of Sören Qvist

“Intriguing … Janet Lewis combines scrupulous research and exquisite craftsmanship to create stories of timeless human drama … must rank among the finest historical fiction in English.”

Tim Gioe, WDCB FM Radio, Chicago

Related Titles

Cover of 'The Wife of Martin Guerre'

The Wife of Martin Guerre
By Janet Lewis
· Introduction by Kevin Haworth
· Afterword by Larry McMurtry

The Wife of Martin Guerre—based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France—is “one of the most significant short novels in English” (Atlantic Monthly). Originally published in 1941, it still raises questions about identity, belonging, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.

Literary Fiction · Women Authors · American Literature · Historical Fiction · Literary Studies · France

Cover of 'The  Selected Poems of Janet Lewis'

The Selected Poems of Janet Lewis
By Janet Lewis
· Edited by R. L. Barth

Since the appearance in print of her early poems over seventy-five years ago, the poetry of Janet Lewis has grown in quiet acclaim and popularity. Although she is better known as a novelist of historical fiction, her first and last writings were poems. With the publication of her selected poems, Swallow Press celebrates the distinguished career of one of its most cherished authors.

Poetry · Women Poets · American Literature · Literary Studies

Cover of 'Good Bye, Son and Other Stories'

Good Bye, Son and Other Stories
By Janet Lewis

Good-bye, Son, Lewis’ only collection of short fiction, was originally published in 1946, but it remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the '30s and '40s, these stories focus on the imperceptible processes, or cycles, connecting youth with age, despair and hope, life and death. Through a variety of characters (mostly female) at various stages of life, we glimpse the motion of these cycles.

Literary Fiction · Literary Studies · Short Stories (single author) · American Literature · Women Authors

Cover of 'The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron'

The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron
By Janet Lewis
· Introduction by Kevin Haworth

This historical novel is the third and final book in American poet and fiction writer Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series, based on legal case studies compiled in the nineteenth century. In The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, Lewis returns to her beloved France, the setting of The Wife of Martin Guerre, her best-known novel and the first in the series.

Literary Fiction · Women Authors · American Literature · Historical Fiction · France · Literary Studies