It is easier to face death than to face life: Ivy Compton-Burnett, ‘The Present and the Past’

Ivy Compton-Burnett, The Present and the Past (1953) My previous posts on this novel have centred on ICB’s extraordinary dialogue, even from children’s mouths – epigrammatic, witty and caustic, usually serving to outsmart the self-absorbed or distracted adults around them. … Continue reading

Children wise beyond their years: dialogue in Ivy Compton-Burnett’s ‘The Present and the Past’

Ivy Compton-Burnett,  The Present and the Past, 1953 Last week I wrote from sweltering Berlin about Ivy Compton- Burnett’s 1953 novel The Present and the Past, showing how a description of a character’s clothes and appearance functioned to point up the … Continue reading

A whole that conformed to nothing: clothes in Ivy Compton-Burnett’s ‘The Present and the Past’

I write this in Berlin and it’s 31 degrees and heavy humidity presages a thunderstorm, so this will have to be hastily done – especially as two young grandchildren need my attention soon. I wrote recently about the significance of … Continue reading

A martyr and a ruler: Ivy Compton-Burnett, A House and its Head

Ivy Compton-Burnett, A House and its Head (1935) Ivy Compton-Burnett has possibly the most idiosyncratic and instantly recognisable literary method and prose style of any modern writer. I’ve written about her technique extensively in my previous two posts about her: … Continue reading

Rather a horrid person: Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings

Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings. First published 1958. Virago Modern Classics paperback, 2011 Despite the surface triviality, there’s something else in Barbara Pym’s novels (links to my other posts at the end), a darker seriousness, a moral frailty or … Continue reading