and a chandelier that hung in a bag like a cheese  

(above images from the new book THE GHOST SEQUENCES by A.C. Wise)

the Bridge playing in…

THE DISINHERITED by Elizabeth Bowen

“Half-made roads, like the first knowing cuts of a scalpel, mapped the flank of the hill out, up to the concrete water-tower upon its crest.”

From this place of a new housing estate, no chickens allowed nor hanging out clothes, an estate near the village and its church, we reach the ever half-made roads of life at the end of this mighty novelette…

“She saw that events led nowhere, crisis was an illusion, and that passions of momentary violent reality were struck off like sparks from the spirit, only to die. One could precipitate nothing. One is empowered to live fully: occasion does not offer.”

My passions of the reading moment threatened by their built-in ends.

But this certainly is one helluva passion, this work, perhaps, in hindsight, EB’s masterpiece. One woman, Marianne, with an unsatisfactory marriage on the estate, the other, Davina, staying with her aunt in village, and being paid by the chauffeur, Prothero, for her kisses. And he not being called Prothero all along as we can judge by his own Joycean backstory that he scribbles out with the light of four candles…

“Whatever you did want it wasn’t that, whatever you did want you didn’t seem to be getting. I never did know what you did want and I don’t think you did. What you did get you didn’t want, that was me. But you got what you didn’t want. You got that and now I don’t want any more.”

And more!

The trip that Marianne and Davina take to Lord Thingumny’s mansion and gallery and grand saloon, a party of would-be or actual neerdowells, Oliver like a tree about to fall on Marianne, and kisses sold to darkness, if not for money, and Purdon the dentist, Miriam the tea lady from her shop in a horrible touristy place, and a White Russian and others. This is dangerous stuff, prophetically warning of the trends towards today…

“…she therefore despised Marianne’s habit of shopping by telephone, which put her, she thought, out of touch with reality.”

And pure Bowen’s half-made Zeno’s Paradox…

“This first phase of autumn was lovely; decay first made itself felt as an extreme sweetness: with just such a touch of delicious morbidity a lover might contemplate the idea of death. […] Everything rotted slowly. […] eternity seemed to have set in at late autumn.”

My own ‘Prothero’-like automatic writing:-

Village church beetle-green gas canister trains city tentacles no shops on estate “the frontispiece to a ghost-story” a bridge party Dulwich dead baby in cistern Jewish girl “Marianne she was big-limbed, wide-browed, and looked like a diffident goddess” 15 years younger than hubbie invited Davina to her new house, nullish “clock ticked, but the room had no pulse” “A friend’s unknown friends are daemons or demigods with frightful attributes” revellers randomness misbegotten meeting at “The road-house stood at the cross-roads, its row of Christmas-card windows shedding a fictitious glow” “…you would unthink the thought you thought under the pillow,” Anita “Downstairs, in the ante-room, the gilt clock had stopped at ten minutes to four” housemaid awakening, Marianne “A segment of bright unknown world had fallen across her path, where it shed prisms” and much talk of social classes… “Oliver a broken-spirited Viking. He was capable of fantastically disinterested affections. Not having been born for nothing into a privileged class, he was, like Davina, entirely unscrupulous” ”…and a chandelier that hung in a bag like a cheese and glittered inside the muslin”…

But the chauffeur never passed on the message from amid the ramblings of his crooked brain. Let’s hope I am more successful in conveying why you should read this masterpiece of English literature, with Aickman vibes and modernist trends.

“Then he said he thought the end of the world would soon come.”

My ongoing reviews of all Elizabeth Bowen stories:

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