Make Your Moment uBit overwritten and a bit overcosmic assual but the flashes of psychological acuity are abundant Powys is a sort of cult figure whose books are Approaching the Guitar uite long and depend on a lot of Celtic esotericaMaiden Castle s central character is a somewhat misanthropic writer whose eccentric personal habits and inability to comprehend women in other than oddly idealized form seems to me fit into some tradition of anti heroes Confederacy of Dunces Ignatius Reilly and Anthony Burgess Enderby come to mind but there are probably closer examplesThe narrative also revolves around a kind of very specifically Welsh magical mysticism that popsp in all sorts of books worth reading including Madeleine L Engle s A Swiftly Tilting Planet and John Wain s A Winter In the Hills which I hastily summarized in this blog post It s ite similar from memory to A Glastonbury Romance in that Glastonbury TorMaiden Castle at least half alive with attached myth history and religion overshadow the plot which is otherwise about people s sexual and psychological lives and with a railroad of modernity cutting through I chose this as my next Powys with the idea Wizzie was an old circus clown No John Cowper Powys can be
THE MOST INFURIATING OF WRITERS ABLEmost infuriating of writers able combine the most exuisitely atmospheric writing
with moments of obscurantism that one knows is deliberate and may be nnecessary Nevertheless this book showsmoments of obscurantism that one knows is deliberate and may be Can I Tell You about Nystagmus? unnecessary Nevertheless this book shows his genius Ostensibly the tale of a group of Dorchester folk over a year of their lives the personalities are types obviously so in the male Cast of CharactersYet they are also real persons certainly the women in the detail of their reactions to each other and events Theatrical and stage managed scenes compete with scenes of the most vivid realism The time is indeterminate but contemporary repeatedly a main scene of the action is referred to as having been pulled down The political debates could only have happened within a decade or so of the writing The homage to Hardy is obvious Powys likes to make things explicit sticking his symbolic representations in front of our eyes yet he suggests depths of meaning that may or may not be thereThe hero of the novel is an impotent early middle aged writer with a limited emotional range an artistic achievement in representation by Powys who is called in that jarring way of Powys Dud Noman This evidently symbolic name is then attached to a character that is to be described in very realistic terms An interplay between realism and symbolism is essential to the Powys projectThe first section is madep of a detailed almost Proustian account of Mr Noman s rising with every detail of his room superbly described in a way that grabs our attention from the startThis is an attention that is sustained all the way through to his meeting at the graveyard with the first of the circle to which he will become attachedOnce you Last Whales understand that the novel is about sex and particularly the attempt by thencomprehending male any Noman to The Art of War understand the varieties of female response then things start to fall into placeThe male characters appear to have interior lives that are constructed out of ideas the Platonist the dim witted Fascist the New Man Communist Even the second hero of the novel the simultaneously fascinating andnattractive EnochUryen irm who turns out to be Noman s father is defined by the way he exists through a mythic narrativeUryen s narrative loses its power when it is expressed in the written word HmmmmThe sexual centres are EnochUryen whose intense sexual attraction for women is a mystery to the reader as I believe it is supposed to be and Wizzie the circus girl WITH AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILDNOMAN IN A an illegitimate childNoman in a tribute to Hardy purchases Wizzie to live with him in what proves to be a sexless mistress relationshipTo describe the flow of energies between the characters four or five women and four or five men depending on who The novels of John Cowper Powys are like none other containing the romantic extravagance and comic exuberance of the great nineteenth century novels with the self conscious depth and introspection of the great Modernists Maiden Castle portrays in pointillist detail the complexities of sexual and romantic feeling that bedevil an eccentric cast of characters and explores the psychological idiosyncras. .
Ou think important to the dynamic is to describe a catalogue of possible relationsI am not going to ruin the book for you by describing that dynamic hereWhat Powys has done with consummate brilliance is to confuse our perceptions about the reality of what is going on in order to concentrate our attention on specific momentsAt these moments two persons connect as if in response to EM Forster s famous appeal on this matterIf he does not always succeed this may be because he is trying to capture the indescribable in words as he subverts the conventions of literature as it stood in the English 1930sThe traditional novel appeared to give verisimilitude to relations by setting them in a real narrative This merely succeeded in masking the fact that such relations have been conventionalised in order to engage the reader in the narrativePowys on the other hand describes very recognisable and specific but relatively momentary points of human connection He adds a degree of nreality or locks an exchange between persons into a clearly manufactured context This makes the book extremely hard to describe It is not a narrative with a point or clear conclusion the ending you are warned is incoherent and perfunctory but a concatenation of set piece incidentsThese are strung together with sufficient narrative to create an air of credibility that begins to collapse only when we think about itWhatever the techniue with all its nlikelihoods it works The mind concentrates on the incident or
the anticipation of the incident though Powys often cleverly set s p for something that does not happenanticipation of the incident though Powys often cleverly set s Sanzoku Ou - King of Bandits Vol. 9 up for something that does not happen not the conseuences The why is oftennclearThe perfunctory ending is in accordance with the book s style What happens next is not very interesting to the author Indeed what actually happens is not of enormous interest What is interesting is how people respond to events It is the incident that matters not the cause and effect because the incident contains the truth of the relationship As a result we come to think we know the women in the novel as persons whereas the men remain weak not merely My First Glitter Book, Colors (Board book) unknowable but not subjects we wish to know aboutAgain there is a genius in this Powys a man seems to have decided that he can only try to get to annderstanding of women if he presents the men as mere catalystsThese men passively and conventionally worship a mistress challenge a daughter suffer a rejection and so onThe women *in this book are very different All are personalities rather than *this book are very different All are personalities rather than obvious types who take their time acting but either act or choose not to act obvious types who take their time acting but either act or choose not to act a determined way They are formidable women most men reading the book will fall a little in love with one of them at some pointDoes Powys succeed in this mission to Bitva na Hackhamské pláni (Hraničářův učeň: První roky, understand women by abstracting men I am not sure he does entirely but it is a gallant effort and it triggers the paradoxnderlying the bookThe male ciphers and hysterics three of the main male characters exhibit hysterical or emotional loss of control in a way conventionally associated with women are one thing The women are another They are pragmatic and above all proud and self contained The way the women relate to these ciphers and hysterics turns back in on itself to tell Kent Hrbeks Tales from the Minnesota Twins Dugout us something about male responses This is where the genius liesThe male reading this book by not identifying with these male types can relate to the internal selves of the women in each case and feel that he isnderstanding them for the first timeIt is as if Powys has sought a techniue for getting inside a woman s mind based on his observation of behaviour and then opening it Goodbye My Fancy up to scrutiny with an implicit cry There see this is how they work Further he tellss that the workings are reasonable and can be nderstood as reasonable There is certainly nothing in the interior workings of the women that is not reasonable or presented as anything other than a mind to be Ies that fuel their hopes and dreams fantasies and failuresAt the center of the novel is the aptly named Dud No man a historical novelist widowed after a yearlong nconsummated marriage to a woman who continues to haunt him Inspired by pity and his own deep loneliness Dud takes Wizzie Ravelston an itinerant circus performer into his home and heart Their awkward yet endearing efforts to create a lif. Espected as having its own legitimate perspectiveEven the irrational resistance to sexuality of Jenny in relation to Claudius that appears to be countered effectively by the How to Stop Your Grownup from Making Bad Decisions (Nina the Philosopher, unexpected and passionate intervention of her father is explainedPast history allows this intervention and shows a mind changing with new facts and ideas where conventional arguments failed Whether Powys has got it right only women can answerMen will think he has done enough to open a door tonderstanding what women are really like instead of how conventional literature has presented them to themselves as much as to menYes this is a flawed work those occasional obscurities and the perfunctory closure but it is a remarkable attempt at dealing with one of the great challenges of all literatureThat challenge is how
TO PRESENT THE MINDS OF THEpresent the minds of the sex without falling into conventionalismIt is a novel of psychological realism set within a deliberately jarring narrative realistic enough to make The Vampires Bedside Companion us believe that we are presented with reality This reality though is imbued with enough implicit magical or irrational elements to shakes into engaging with the material with life with a fresh eyeThere are many insights to be had from this book but perhaps one of the most interesting is Wizzie s the circus girl s attitude to Old FunkyOld Funky is the The Highgate Vampire unattractive and a moral man who taught her the skills that make her feel alive but who also raped her and is not averse to blackmailConventionalism would make a woman s feelings far from ambivalent but reality can make her compare his engagement with life a cause for a very negative comparison with the sexless love of NomanIt is only a fleeting moment but it is true to interior life and this bringsp another techniue of Powys which he carries with commanding effect How the mind can move rapidly through emotional change and see other Persons With Very Different Eyes with very different eyes different timesThe book is set on single days dealt with in great detail with long gaps in the narrative between those days This effect also jars because relationships have advanced between the days without the reader having any idea how or why a change has taken place We have to work back to imagine the cause of the change The only male whose interior life is reported in detail is Noman himself whose lack of self knowledge is startling in retrospectNoman is also sed by Powys to show just how fickle the male mind is in its feelingsAt than one point he
Is Attracted And Unattractedattracted and nattracted several women as men are in succession Wizzie s flow of thought shows a similar flowThis works against convention as well so that the overall effect is to raise Light Structures - Structures of Light up the personhood against conventional representation in what is really an artistic experimentI am no expert on Powys but there is a short ifnenlightening Prefatory Note to the novel in this edition that seems to confirm that Powys was working out his feelings about formidable women The women in this novel are both formidable and ordinary above all they are not caricaturesThe triumph of Powys is to imbue an air of eroticism around these women without any obvious sexual acts although Powys is relatively open about sexuality compared to most of his contemporariesAs a male I could sense Powys own erotic responses to these formidable women who may be types themselves but at a far sophisticated level than the males The variation of erotic response is definitely not conventional and it is certainly skilfully made as momentary for the reader as it is for the protagonists From this perspective this is a novel about transitory responses and male hysteria and a powerful step forward in male literature s ability to come to terms with strong women In that sense it is a small but important step towards the modern age one in which conventional sexual stereotyping can be replaced with a better Bitter Blood (The Morganville Vampires, understanding of actual sexual difference. E togethernfold in counterpoint to the romantic and familial relationships that sizzle and simmer in the village of Dorchester Yet even as the characters in Maiden Castle struggle with the perplexities of love desire and faith readjusting their sights and affections it is the looming fortress of Maiden Castle that exerts the otherworldly force that irrevocably determines the course of their lives. .