Saturday, May 26, 2007

A prose that falls on the page like sunlight

And when one has come to the end of this beautiful and moving story it is worth while reading the book over again simply to observe the wonders of its technique. Mr. Hueffer has used the device, invented and used successfully by Mr. Henry James, and used not nearly so credibly by Mr. Conrad, of presenting the story not as it appeared to a divine and omnipresent intelligence, but as it was observed by some intervener not too intimately concerned in the plot. It is a device that always breaks down at the great moment, when the revelatory detail must be given; but it has the great advantage of setting the tone of the prose from the beginning to the end. And out of the leisured colloquialism of the gentle American who tells the story Mr. Hueffer has made a prose that falls on the page like sunlight. It has the supreme triumph of art, that effect of effortlessness and inevitableness, which Mengs described when he said that one of Velasquez's pictures seemed to be painted not by the hand but by pure thought. Indeed, this is a much, much better book than any of us deserve.

--Rebecca West, from the review of The Good Soldier originally published in the Daily News, April 2, 1915

The Slaves of Golconda will be discussing Ford Madox (Hueffer) Ford's novel on Thursday. Join us.

3 comments:

Imani said...

Oh, that's nice, we've both posted excerpts today having to do with Ford, although mine is from one of his essays.

I'm warming up to the way the story was laid out and arranged. Fittingly enough I plan to start a Woolf novel after this and her writing was supposedly "impressionistic" too, so I'll see how that goes.

SFP said...

I didn't like the Ford much at first--in fact, I started it a year or so ago and put it back on the shelf after the first chapter.

I like it more the more I think about it.

And I've decided to go with an even more digressive narrator this time around: Tristram Shandy.

Have fun with Woolf. :)

Imani said...

Thanks! And good luck with the Shandy -- you're a braver reader than I.