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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why British novelists are unable to portray children

Henry Green's Loving late in the day veers toward the conventional British country estate novel as the plot begins to revolve around the missing ring - it's not a mystery to us as we have benefit of the omniscient narrative point of view but we can see the complexities and potential crises develop: one of the ladies of the Castle, Mrs. Tennant, now taken flight to England, apparently lost her valuable sapphire ring; the maideservant Edith has found the ring and wants to get credit for her discovery, but of course is concerned that if it's discovered in her possession she'll be accused of stealing it - so she hides it - though not very effectively - because young and ill-mannered boy whom the family has taken in for shelter (this is during the war years) - it's very unclear to me who his parents might be but there's a sense that he's not of the ruling class - has found the ring, and hidden it and has sworn the two young girls, Mrs. Tennants grand-daughters, to secrecy. Suddenly, an insurance adjuster shows up trying to get the facts behind the disappeance of the ring (this seems a little odd to me - that Mrs. Tennant would put in a claim so quickly, and that it would merit the visit of aduster - it's not exactly the crown jewels) So Edith's position is now especially precarious - as the tyke, whose name - this is utterly ridiculous of Green BTW, is the same (Albert) as one of the servants. Green, like many British novelists, has absolutely no sense of how to portray children - the 3 kids are very marginal, never come to life, never are distinct from one another, and never sound in the least like children - compare to the children in, say, Faulkner, whose novels are equally if not more complex and demanding, with shifting points of view and much stream-of-consciousness, but the children always seem real an distinct. Perhaps it's because the English of that class and time hardly noticed their children - or is this circular reasoning, is it the absence of children in the novels that makes us think the disregard of adults is so?

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