Category Archives: novels

The Yoke (1907) by Hubert Wales

I’ve been thinking again recently about Kipling’s literary treatment of syphilis, so am looking around to see how other writers treated the theme during his lifetime. The most common approach is the moralistic: a sinner receives the wages of sin. There were alternatives, though, and I’ve just been reading The Yoke, a scandalous novel of […]

Dean Street Press

This is just a brief note to recommend the excellent Dean Street Press, and their reissues of classic crime novels of the inter-war period. Quite regularly, they whet readers’ appetites by offering free Kindle downloads of some of their books. This week I took advantage of the offer of The Black Cabinet, by Patricia Wentworth […]

Colonel Repington, Arnold Bennett and Lady Constance

I’ve been looking again at a text I’ve neglected for a long while, The First World War, 1914-1918 (1920) by Colonel Repington. It was a book that scored a huge hit at the time of publication – ten editions in a year he claimed. It was something of a succes de scandale, because it was […]

‘the word known to all men’

Tom Deveson’s comment on my Y.Y. post reminds us of Joyce and his linguistic taboo-breaking. Robert Lynd was cautious about this: ‘There are things that even hardened war veterans do not like to see in cold print.’ It’s interesting to see the association of swearing and the war. Even civilians like Lynd had gathered that […]

Tipping a policeman

I’m indulging myself during this tedious lockdown by re-reading Arnold Bennett’s Imperial Palace (1930). At the moment I’m wondering about something that occurs in the episode where dynamic Gracie Savott parks her car outside Smithfield market, and asks a policman to keep an eye on it.On leaving the market, ‘she resumed her dark cloak, tipped […]

Douglas Goldring, Patrick Hamilton

I’ve just realised that I never mentioned on this blog that I recently wrote a review of Douglas Goldring’s The Fortune (1917) for the Sheffield Hallam Popular Fiction blog. Goldring’s book is remarkable for its depiction of James Murdoch, a man who objects to war not on religious or political grounds, but because it seems […]

T.S. Eliot and Nesta Webster

One vast conspiracy! To destroy the social order. Thank God, we have people alive to it! Nesta Webster, a great invigilator – laughed at, at the time. Now T.S. Eliot. You should read T.S. Eliot. One of the Master Minds of our age. A great influence. Restrained, fastidious, and yet a Leader. The Young adore […]

H.G. Wells and the ‘shot at dawn’ theme

H.G. Wells’s The Bulpington of Blup (1932) is one of those novels that creates an unsatisfactory human being as its protagonist, and then uses the war to prove his unsatisfactoriness beyond any doubt. In this case the hero’s faults come close to getting him shot at dawn. Theodore Bulpington (the cumbersome polysyllables of the name […]

On Bookish Students of History

From The Bulpington of Blup (1932) by H.G. Wells: The bookish student of history in the future will find a curious interest in the contrasts between the literature which tells the story of the English going to war on the one hand, a complex, reluctant, voluntary affair, and that which describes the fatalistic acquiescence of […]

Sheila Kaye-Smith and the Middlebrow reader

In her 1916 study of John Galsworthy, Sheila Kaye-Smith writes perceptively about the audience for which he was writing. She first defines what she calls the mob-public: The spread of education, with other causes, has brought into being a mob-public, and the approved of the mob-public have a popularity which could hardly have been conceived […]