The Trance of Reading


ELIZABETH BOWEN AND THE DISSOLUTION OF THE NOVEL: Still Lives

by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle

My previous review of these authors: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/this-thing-called-literature-andrew-bennett-nicholas-royle/

And my reviews of fiction by one of them: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/an-english-guide-to-birdwatching-a-novel-by-nicholas-royle/ and https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/novel-doodlings/

I have been rereading and reviewing all Elizabeth Bowen’s collected and uncollected stories in my personal fashion, and have found many references to ELBOWS as body parts and mentioned this fact in my still  continuing reviews here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/31260-2/

I have been recently browsing through this book and seen its mere mention of Elbow as a name on page 139. There may be other references yet undiscovered. Just to say I am intrigued and inspired.

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The Shadowy Third completes the hypotenuse with the elbow as one angle, if not the right angle. Gestalt real-time reviewing of a work needs triangulation by all its readers.

bowen = bone


32 thoughts on “The Trance of Reading

  1. The introduction of this book mentions the ‘veiled cannibalism’ of Bowen, making me think more and more that there is, yes, more to the relationship of Aickman and Bowen, and why this is just one aspect of an essential synergy between them and their respective works, a synergy critics have missed heretofore.

  2. “More disturbingly, however, one can be unknowingly inhabited by the crypt or crypt-effect of someone else — […] …the logic of cause and effect is placed in abeyance and becomes a function of reading itself. […] …a kind of wound, or, more accurately, a cicatrice …”

  3. “The grafting of people and trees erupts from the tomb of language,…”

    “…a copulation of bodies and grammar.”

    “…the work of reading, of the wound, is structured by the temporal and cognitive displacements of dread.”

  4. “Being in a dream wood suggests a strange, fairy-tale collusion of the oneiric and arboreal, commingles anthropomorphism and phantasmagoria, evokes the sense of a wood in a dream, the dreaminess of wood itself, and even the sense of a wood that dreams.”

    Cf Into the Wood and Wood, two stories by Aickman.

  5. “…a narrative that is at once interminable and multiple in itself — weaving and woven out of sheer kink.”

    This whole book is in itself a highly concatenated version of the ‘synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ in both Aickman and Bowen, seemingly without mentioning the former!

  6. “‘The Little Girls’ is concerned with the disinterment of the past, as well as with burying things for the future.”
    Cf David Stonehouse’s Exile.

    “To suggest that the past has to be read, that it is a construction of reading, is not to say that the present is in any sense more ‘real’.”

    I wonder how the arboREAL when replaced by the the ebook has affected reading and reality and retrolexia?

  7. However one is entranced by Bowen’s ‘crypt effects’, ‘thermo-writing’, ‘mouth-events’, ‘dream woods’ and ‘auto-convulsions’, the apotheosis of Sheer Kink is undoubtedly Elbow.

  8. Wake the Elbow


    I have recently reviewed stories of Robert Aickman and Elizabeth Bowen, linked HERE and HERE respectively.


    A few years ago I aligned Aickman with Thomas Mann in AICKMANN.


    Today, I align Aickman and Bowen in Wake the Elbow.


    I cannot yet find any previous evidence that anyone else has linked them as strongly kindred writers of stories. A mutual synergy based on textual evidence. They had mutual friends, I infer, and often similar social circles. They both seem to have similar temperaments and propensities, unless you disagree with my inferences from the available evidence. RA 1914 – 1981 | EB 1899 – 1973.


    I recommend all Bowen’s wonderful  stories as part of my thesis, but these in particular alongside my reviews of them in the order I recently re-read them… LOVE, HAND IN GLOVE, THE DEMON LOVER, THE INHERITED CLOCK, MYSTERIOUS KÔR, THE APPLE TREE, THE DANCING MISTRESS, NO. 16, GREEN HOLLY, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, FOOTHOLD, A WALK IN THE WOODS, THE DISINHERITED, RECENT PHOTOGRAPH, HUMAN HABITATION, CHARITY, ANN LEE’S, DEAD MABELLE, FLOWERS WILL DO, LOOK AT ALL THOSE ROSES, GONE AWAY, THE CLAIMANT, THE PARROT, THE CHEERY SOUL, THE SHADOWY THIRD, MRS MOYSEY, PINK MAY, THE STORM…


    In particular in particular — LOVE, HUMAN HABITATION, MRS MOYSEY, all three in the Vintage Bowen Collected Stories.

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