Ethel Mannin on Arnold Bennett

arnold bennett

In Ethel Mannin’s Confessions and Impressions (1930), there’s this anecdote about Bennett:

I love the story about Arnold Bennett and the young man who so much wanted to meet him. A mutual friend introduced them during a chance encounter in the street. At the spot at which they stood, a carter was carrying a heavy trunk into a house. The young man stood waiting for the great Arnold Bennett to say something witty or profound, but Arnold Bennett was preoccupied with the spectacle of the man carrying the heavy trunk. He would talk of nothing else. It fascinated him. No human being ought to expect another human being to carry a trunk that size… Did they realise what the weight of such a trunk must be?

This story sums up what makes Bennett such a good novelist. No acting the part of a great man; just looking, and imaginatively immersing himself in what he sees, and thinking about the human cost.
There’s another story, about a critic damning a love-scene in one of Bennett’s books as ‘an orgy of lust’.

Arnold Bennett is supposed to have retorted, ‘Orgy of fiddlesticks! If love isn’t an orgy of lust, it ought to be!’

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: