Not so fond memories of life with mother; Heritage, by Anthony West. Introduction by the author. New York: Washington Square Press. 276 pp. $4.95 paperback.
First published in this country in 1955, Anthony West's interesting novel ''Heritage'' is here again in a new paperback edition (and appearing for the first time in Great Britain, where previously it could not be published on account of libel laws). The book still bears the conventional disclaimer, ''. . . any resemblance to . . . actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.'' But West has also added a new introduction virtually disclaiming the disclaimer:
''The truth of how things were between my mother and myself was that from the time that I reached the age of puberty, and she came to the point of a final rupture with my father, she was minded to do me what hurt she could . . .''
The son of H. G. Wells and Rebecca West, Anthony West was born out of wedlock in 1914, and in 1928 was formally adopted by his mother, a move which, West feels, deprived him of his paternal ''pedigree.'' His mother also took great pains to prevent him from publishing his version of events. ''When I wrote this novel 35 years ago,'' West explains, ''I was angry with her.''
Judged from the tone of the new introduction, this anger has increased. Those who believe time heals all wounds are in for a surprise. The epigraph already affixed to the earlier edition has been all too prophetic:
''These are long vendettas,
A peculiar people, neither forgivers
nor forgetters. . . .''
Naomi Savage, the egotistical actress who is the mother of the boy in ''Heritage,'' is a convincing fictional character: charming, self-willed, eager to shine, and always, always acting, on stage and off. Richard, the youthful narrator, loves his mother, but is disappointed by her, time after time. It is an affecting, rather wise novel about parent-child relationships.
No one who has not shared Mr. West's life can tell him how he ought to feel about his own experiences. But the outpouring of raw anger in the new introduction is in somber contrast to the self-discipline of the novelist who transformed his unhappiness into a polished and stimulating work of art some 35 years ago.