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By Michael Cotsell (auth.)
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There are a couple of scenes in which Jessica appears in Miss Doggett's drawing-room in what Miss Doggett regards as the incongruity of the clothes and make-up of an attractive and significant woman. But the sense of incongruity is not only Miss Doggett's, for there is something disturbing about Jessica's appearances and her subsequent retreats to erase or remove the signs of her desire. It is as though what she has done is painfully revealing, hurtful and embarrassing. This sense persists despite the repeated assurances and demonstrations that Jessica is coolly self-possessed.
And yet the thoughts they choose are often so depressing, aren't they, as if Great Thinkers were never cheerful. (ch. 18) At the novel's comic centre is the day on which the Archdeacon chooses most inappropriately to deliver two long sermons on judgement Day, not because he feels its imminence, but as the occasion for many of his favourite quotations. The sermons conclude with T. S. ' The Archdeacon looked pleased. 'I had feared it might be rather too obscure,' he said. ' Belinda gasped. Eliot!
3 The Comedies At the height of the war Pym ceased for a time to write fiction. When she began again it was in a different world. It was not only the war which made a break with her Oswestry and Oxford life. In September 1945 Pym's mother died, and the following year her father remarried. The world of her childhood had passed away. From 1946, Pym's home was London, and the novels of the next period are, with the partial exception of jane and Prudence, London novels. This is the period of her greatest creativity and, arguably, her greatest literary achievement.
Barbara Pym by Michael Cotsell (auth.)