THE TROUT STREAM by Denton Welch

“…I felt haunted. My mother’s sudden giddiness in the train had fixed my mind on pain and illness, so that I had been made specially conscious of Mr. Mellon’s useless legs; then I had crept into the drawing-room and seen that terrible starving man gnawed by rats.”

…the latter being an ivory carving. This is the classic I hoped to find in this book, a blend of Le Grand Meaulnes, Marcel Proust, Walter de la Mare and Robert Aickman.
The rite of passage in three distinct stages, with years between, of the narrator as a boy to a grown up. In interface with his mother, and when she died, his father, and the morphing households of Mr Mellon, the latter’s half-Japanese and/or half-Javanese servant Mrs Slade, and her daughter Phyllis roughly the same age as the narrator and grows up into what he sees as a ‘breasted’ woman, and she is made Mr M’s inheritrix. And not forgetting Bob, Mr M’s masseur, chauffeur and valet, with eyelids too small for his eyes. A sense of inferred sexuality between all these characters involved, even his mother with a stranger on a train. And the tiered landscapes of rock and land in the second stage of this story towards the eponymous stream, wherein tragedy is also inferred at the end of the third stage. Oh yes, also not forgetting the many Indian servants in the first stage of this story, and the pervasive white elephant that Mr M mentioned. I sensed hardness softening in walls and people. I wish I could forget some aspects of this stunning reading experience, though. Best not to mention such aspects here, as a means towards that wish.

“It was the counterfeit of a counterfeit.”


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