Parody of T.F. Powys
Posted by Karen R on April 24, 1998 at 16:46:30:
Well, I actually found an excerpt of a review of CCF from 1932 (The Spectator), in which the critic mentions T.F. Powys as a main subject for Gibbons' parody. (Lawrence is also mentioned.) Having never heard of Powys, I did some checking and this is guy is it!! Be careful, this is Theodore, there were two other brothers who wrote.
This is from Modern English Fiction by Gerald Bullett and written in 1926."His people existed in only one dimension, and each of them possessed only one quality, or, to put in another way, each of them was hagridden by some one desire which, having no root in emotion, was both arbitrary and idiotic. This desire removed, the character at once fell down, dead as mutton. This means--since sanity consists in a balance of qualities--that all the characters were lunatics. There was (in The Left Leg Tom Button, admittedly mad, but no worse than the rest, who spent his time chasing unreluctant village drabs and chattering to inanimate objects. There was old Ann Patch, who hated all young children and whose one joy in life, as we were told a hundred times, was killing blackbeetles with her boot.... The Left Leg introduced us to a place, naively called Wessex, that bore no relation at all to any county trodden by the foot of man, a nighmare region of the mind populated by devils, goblins, and halfwits. It was a kind of obscene fairy-tale, a grim joke; and I for one laughed as heartily as the next man, finding Mr. Powys's gall at least prefereable to the milk-and-water of those more amiable writers who delight to idealise rural life and character. But when a second book appeared that was built on exactly the same formula, I began to yawn. When the second was followed by a third and a fourth, I protested that the joke was wearing thin. And with the publication of Mockery Gap I was forced to the conclusion that Mr. Powys is determined to go on producing book after book (already we have had five in two years) depicting all rustics as dolts and rascals, bestially lustful and cruel, and all sophisticated characters as nervous wrecks and ineffectual sentimentalists....
Three parts of his time Mr. Powys is not a novelist at all: he is the proprietor of a menagerie. His work presents the converse of the world depicted by Mr. Kipling in The Jungle Book. Mr. Kipling shows us animals with human psychology; Mr. Powys shows us men and women moved by purely animal (and therefore uninteresting) impulses. Mr. Powys's anger is demonstrably absurd....Mr. Powys cannot have it both ways. It cannot be too often repeated that mere appetite, whether sexual or otherwise, is a dull theme, and that preoccupation with it has already been the artistic ruin of many a clever novel."
Sorry for the length of this!!
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