'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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May 22, 2013

Prymping...


Barbara was making good progress with her novel, which she finally decided to call Some Tame Gazelle (having rejected Some Sad Turtle as being too reminiscent of soup.) It was, of course, 'for Henry' and as Archdeacon Hoccleve he displayed all the selfishness, insensitivity and arrogance that Barbara felt she saw in the original.  But, because Barbara was still fascinated by Henry, the Archdeacon comes through triumphantly as a marvelous eccentric, with great charisma and one who, in spite of his faults, the heroine Belinda/Barbara could not help loving faithfully even after he had been married to another woman for thirty years. She deliberately took all the main characters directly from life, since this was to a be a roman a clef for her own particular circle. Thus she herself was Belinda, Hilary was Harriet, Henry was the Archdeacon, the hated Alison West-Watson was Agatha, Jock was Dr. Nicholas Parnell, Honor Tracy was Edith Liversidge, Count Roberto Weiss was Ricardo Blanco and Julia Pakenham (because of a rather matronly figure) was Lady Clara Boulding. She circulated chapters among her friends as she wrote them and they were all enthusiastic. Quite early on, in July 1934, Jock had written:

Henry and I think you are a very great novelist and implore you to continue your story -- we long to know more about Barbara and Hilary and the Archdeacon's family and Miss Tracy and Dr. Liddell. Henry thinks you are far greater than Miss Austen. I don't quite agree, though I place you well above the Brontes. We have read your story aloud to each other to West-Watson, to Mr. Barnicot and to Henry's sister Betty. Henry's mother, present on the last occasion, thought it very clever of the little girl Barbara to think of all that.

from A Lot to Ask:  A Life of Barbara Pym, by Hazel Holt

Delicious!



4 comments:

JoAnn said...

No, Some Sad Turtle just would not do at all!

Bellezza said...

I'm hoping to Prymp win you...I have A Glassful of Blessings and Excellent Women. Now I just hope to have time.

Vintage Reading said...

Love the line 'Henry thinks you are far greater than Miss Austen ... I don't quite agree' !!

michelle said...

Some Sad Turtle, hahahaha! Thanks for sharing that delicious bit! :) That's the only Pym I have read so far (Some Tame Gazelle, that is) and am definitely looking forward to reading more.

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