By Neil McEwan (auth.)
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The author of ''Human Comedy'' brings his ins ight to a portrait of a girl and a love affair set within the Lo ire Valley. The Lily of the Valley is certainly one of Balzac''s individual al favourites amoungst his innumerable novels '
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While Markus Cottin starts off unreeling the various family members mysteries, his father tells him he'll locate in basic terms "a chain of fools, each worse than the one who got here ahead of. " His seek takes him to Colorado mining cities, to the Navajo reservation, and round the wilderness 4 Corners sector, and the story he turns up is a shameful certainly one of race politics and union issues of the Fifties.
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The habit, to develop so richly in later books, is already a pleasure in Venusberg, where Mavrin, for example, looking noble in his dressing-gown, is like one of the Burghers of Calais (12). There are also early ventures with 'as if: Da Costa 'laughed again, deafeningly, as ifhe were going to go offhis head at any moment' (10). Another pleasure which must have made attentive readers remember Powell's name is the unfailing skill with talk, notable in this book, especially in Mavrin, in those who speak English weIl but as a foreign language.
She and most of the other rural characters laugh nervously at the term 'high-brow', which the novel's villain intrudes on them. He and it represent a dangerous and alien culture. Powell put his middle-brow characters in their place with gentle mockery. Mrs Brandon praises her late husband: Novels ofthe 1930s 29 And he was the most wonderful man,joanna. So tall and strong and sunburned. He looked like a Greek god. ' Wasn't that a tribute? From someone as critical as Vernon Passenger, too. (2) Middle-brow reading habits are observed with amusement.
This last touch is developed later into apart of the novel's ironie scherne. Professor Mavrin does condescend to speak of his own subject in Chapter 28, where he lectures Lushington on 'the dark and secret places' which lurk 'in the real m of the subconscious'. He is suspicious about his wife, whose behaviour suggests that she is in love with another man. Such are the strange workings of the subconscious, he maintains, that she appears to be jealous of Lushington's friendship with Da Costa, with whom she is obviously in love.
Anthony Powell by Neil McEwan (auth.)