Monday, December 27, 2010
The Adelaide Collection and Rhapsody
It's raining buckets here in the Sunshine State. Perfect reading weather!
But it's Christmas too - people need to be fed, tables laid, floors swept, presents wrapped - you get the picture....so...short stories are perfect fare for the domestically distracted.
Rhapsody is a book of ten short stories written by Dorothy Edwards with an introduction by Elaine Morgan. This book is one of the Virago Modern Classics series published by Penguin in 1986. You can find out more about Elaine Morgan here http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A5316860 or watch her speak here http://www.elainemorgan.me.uk/. Elaine, like Dorothy Edwards, is Welsh and probably best known for writing The Descent of Woman and for many popular BBC TV series e.g. How Green Was My Valley, Dr Finlay's Casebook and Testament of Youth. Most recently she wrote Pinker's List.
Elaine's introduction gives us great context for reading Dorothy's work - she was the daughter of an idealistic Welshman..."a pioneering Shavian, socialist and vegetarian" and behaved "as if the world of letters was a genuine republic - as if here at least the age of equality had already arrived. She was presuming a little too much." For despite being "adopted" by David Garnett in the flush of her early literary success, he grew "irritated by her clumsy homemade dresses and her lack of any form of corset."
These stories were published in 1926 when Dorothy was in her early 20s. As Morgan says, Edwards ignored the cardinal rule to write about what you know best. She wrote about privileged life and, as such, much of what she writes comes across as stilted or awkward. Not much happens in these stories. People seem somewhat constipated or ill at ease in their environment. Things aren't explained. Thoughts are left hanging. The characters try their hand at creative endeavours - music, poetry, writing - with varying degrees of success.
But don't let that dissuade you from reading them - they are haunting in their quality and for people who are interested in writing, I think they are well worth reading.
The picture featured is another fabric from Michele Hill's new Adelaide Collection.