Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Drowning in Aphorisms.
CAMBRIDGE COUNTDOWN: 24 DAYS!
Whenever I read West's work I feel as though I am plunged into an ocean, with each wave crested by something infinitely quotable. It is not a dissimilar feeling to that which I get when reading Oscar Wilde.
You feel you are swept away by their prose, which can be both soothing and pleasant whilst also scathing and sharply satirical.
Today reading some of her early journalism for The Freewoman (March 1912) I came across her review for a book by James Stephens called The Charwoman's Daughter.
She writes: 'This year I shall mark the date of the coming of spring from the day I read this book. And, indeed, it is like a wood being awakened by spring. As the buds leap out on the trees, so word by word unfolds its beauty: each lovely in itself and an essential note in the larger symphony of loveliness. It develops slowly with the sedate spendthrift elaboration of Nature herself, and every page brings the book to a ripe beauty that one can hardly bear to leave, just as one wants every April day to linger for ever. Nothing can express the delicate strength of his style: to read the quick, beating sentences is like holding a bird in one's hand.'
When she enjoyed literature, regardless of its worthiness, she said so. When she loathed it - she also said so; acerbically.
Reviewing anti-feminist writer harold Owen's essay "Woman Adrift", West humorously opened: "Mr Harold Owen is a natural slave, having no conception of liberty nor any use for it. So, as a Freewoman, I review his anti-feminist thesis, Woman Adrift, with chivalrous reluctance, feeling that a steam-engine ought not to crush a butterfly".
I am envious that she had such a capacity for phrasing. She certainly did slash through the swathes of hyperbole to turn the masculine discursive arsenal back on itself 9as I have phrased it in my own thesis!)
One thing I find frustrating is that you can still buy Stephen's books in relatively new editions - but can you do that for West? No, you can't! And yet she was a literary giant by comparison. However, there is one drawback; she was and always will be considered by many to be a second class artist simply because she was a woman! He even has 5 novels on Project Guttenberg despite writing far less work than West, who only has one novel listed The Judge (which in writing this Blog entry I have discovered has just been re-released! Yippee! )
I am struggling as usual to make progress. I had a message from a fellow Phudder* and it seems she is drowning in a sea of her own editing just now.
For a list of West's major novels and work look here. I am slowly but surely acquiring a library of her work!
*Phudder: my own moniker for a reluctant PhD student !
- ▼ May (4)