Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

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The greatest gift that the devil gives Laura is the gift of watching her nephew in distress and not caring. Her mind was groping after something that eluded her experience, a something that was shadowy and menacing, and yet in some way congenial; a something that lurked in waste places, that was hinted at by the sound of water gurgling through deep channels and by the voices of birds of ill-omen. Their beliefs and preferences were not the only ones present in England in 1902, but they were strongly held, and not only by the Willowes. Things are definitely on the unusual side and Laura makes a choice here that gives her her freedom but with a great and shocking cost. She went up to the top of Cubbey Ridge, past the ruined windmill that clattered with its torn sails.

Sylvia Townsend Warner was born at Harrow on the Hill, the only child of George Townsend Warner and his wife Eleanora (Nora) Hudleston. When Mr Willowes dies of pneumonia in 1902, everything changes for Laura (now aged twenty-eight) as her familiar world is swept away. I’ve tried to find a representative passage short enough to reproduce here so readers don’t imagine that I’m making things up but I can’t so I’ll just throw in two entirely random quotes from pp. One of the ideas and themes that Warner has set out to tackle in this story of Lolly Willowes is how a patriarchal society can diminish, in a quiet and loving way, a woman’s life. She did not attach an inordinate value to her wifehood and maternity; they were her duties, rather than her glories.

Without wishing to give too much away, the village holds a secret, one that enables Laura to unleash an element of her psyche that has been lying dormant for years just waiting to be released.

While I haven’t read the Woolf, I understand that it taps into a similar theme – a woman’s need to establish some kind of a meaningful life for herself without the interference or dominance of others. Lovely to be with people who prefer their thoughts to yours, lovely to live at your own sweet will, lovely to sleep out all night! It’s one of those words you hear someone say and squirm uncomfortably, like you would if they said, “I’m hip to that,” without irony or asked where all the “hep cats” are partying while wearing a fedora. At these times she was subject to a peculiar kind of day-dreaming, so vivid as to be almost a hallucination: that she was in the country, at dusk, and alone, and strangely at peace.

With traces of her radical politics (STW was an active member of the Communist Party), of possible queer desire, and the underpinning of a need, however gently expressed in Lolly/Laura, to decide what her own life should look like, this is a subversive narrative - and a sparkling, funny one. Da Londra si trasferisce a Great Mop, paesino sperduto e poco conosciuto, dove a poco a poco riesce a identificare e a definire quell’ansia che la assale sempre più spesso. When out walking, she makes a pact with a force that she takes to be Satan, to be free from such duties. Despite that, I did enjoy Sylvia Townsend Warner’s writing style; it was very poetic and also witty at times. How difficult it must have been for Laura to live alongside her, especially given the circumstances.

The story itself is frustrating, as all womans lives were in the 20s, and the result of that is a great theory where they give their souls to satan. Arbuthnot certainly was not prepared for her response to his statement that February was a dangerous month. Lolly addresses it when, having embraced her witchy self, she has a long conversation with a middle-aged country gent who turns out to be Satan. And after I bought it but before I read it, I heard this book mentioned in passing on the Backlisted Podcast about "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," as an example of when witchcraft is used as a foil to show something about society, or something like that. With her partner Valentine Ackland, she was active in the Communist Party and served in the Red Cross during the Spanish Civil War.Scritto con eleganza e attraversato da una irresistibile vena di humor inglese, si perde un po’ nella parte centrale, per poi riprendersi nel crescendo delle geniali pagine successive. Now, for sure, Lolly Willowes is a shoo-in for The 100 Most Charming Oddities in English but one of the all time best? Brian Stableford, " Re-Enchantment in the Aftermath of War", in Stableford, Gothic Grotesques: Essays on Fantastic Literature. She had only been married to James for two years, and if the bureau had marked the morning-room wall-paper, she could easily put something else in its place. It’s an excellent book, one of the most surprising and unexpected delights of my reading year to date.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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