Novelists on Novelists by David Dowling (eds.)

By David Dowling (eds.)

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New to the London world, she entered it with an independent, indomitable spirit of her own; and judged of contemporaries, and especially spied out arrogance or affectation, with extraordinary keenness of vision. She was angry with her favourites if their conduct or conversation fell below her ideal ... I fancied an austere little Joan of Arc marching in upon us, and rebuking our easy lives, our easy morals ... How well I remember the delight, and wonder, and pleasure with which I read Jane Eyre, sent to me by an author whose name and sex were then alike unknown to me; the strange fascinations of the book; and how with my own work pressing upon me, I could not, having taken the volumes up, lay them down until they were read through!

At the house of H. G. Wells. Even then, from the way he talked, one could perceive at once and all the time that creative writing for him was not a literary pursuit, but a sanguinary war, in which victories were won at an enormous cost. His working days were terrible ... My last meeting, also accidental, with Conrad ... I had not seen him for some years, and for a few minutes he failed to recognise me. Then he suddenly came across the room to me and gripped my shoulders .... 'My dearrr Bennett,' he said, in his earnest, formidable voice.

The act of squeezing out to the utmost the plump and more or less juicy orange of a particular acquainted state and letting this affirmation of energy, however directed or undirected, constitute for them the 'treatment' of a theme - that is what we remark them as mainly engaged in .... 'Yes, yes but is this all? ' ... We see no difference between the subject of the show and the showman's feeling, let alone the showman's manner, about it. This felt identity of the elements -because we at least consciously feel- becomes in the novel we refer to, and not less in Clayhanger, which our words equally describe, a source for us of abject confidence, confidence truly so abject in the solidity of every appearance that it may be said to represent our whole relation to the work and completely to exhaust our reaction upon it ...

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