|Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 01:37 am: |
I think that Ivy Compton-Burnett is an acquired taste but is a strand of the Horror genre - where the horror is stronger, in her case, the more it is understated. Or minor evils are major ones, through the filter of her veil. She is perhaps Robert Aickman without the surrealism or puckish absurdism - where a turn of phrase gingers up the vision.
Pamela Hansford Johnson about IC-B:
"Her work is an arras of embroidered concealments beneath which the cat's sharp claws flash out and are withdrawn, behind which the bitter quarrels of the soul are conducted 'tiffishly', as if cruelty and revenge and desire, the very heart itself, were all trivial compared with the great going clock of society, ticking on implacably for ever behind the clotted veilings."
Veils and Piques, indeed.
|Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 05:50 am: |
It has suddenly dawned on me (for the first time), that 'veil' is an anagram of 'evil'.
|Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 07:45 am: |
"There is nobody in all this writing world even remotely like her."
— Norman Shrapnel, Guardian
"Each new novel is a fresh shock treatment — individual, complete and stunning."
— New York Times Book Review
"Miss Compton-Burnett is totally unlike any other novelist. Wit and melodrama have never been so combined before, and the combination is a brilliant success.... She is a unique figure in modern English literature."
— Philip Toynbee
"She has looked at human nature's hidden side, and looked away; but not before writing it down."
— Joanne Hutchinson
"... the most nimble and subtle of living novelists."
— New Republic
"There is no book of Miss Compton-Burnett's that has not its violent shock, as trim and tidy as a handgrenade and as destructive potentially."
— Pamela Hansford Johnson
"The most original novelist now writing in English."
— V. S. Pritchett
"... that unique genius of our age, Ivy Compton-Burnett, gripping, madly comic, enraging and wise."
— Martin Seymour Smith, Oxford Mail
"Her specialty is a kind of surgical operation upon family life. Through her, we see it starlingly stripped of its more amiable pretensions. Parents and children, servants and masters, engage in a queer kind of verbal warfare bristling with innuendo and even with a candor that slashes to the quick. Her revelation of character ... [is] built upon a searching yet serene anlysis of the egotisms, envies, irascibilities that are part of domestic intercourse. By reason of her accurate avoidance of all pretense or idealism, her people actually become ... almost heroic, and vividly if bitterly funny."
— New York Herald Tribune
"The heights and depts of character are laid bare in the drawing room: Aeschylus has been transposed into the key of Jane Austen."
— London Times
"These conversations are among the most remarkable in English literature. They are like life and also they are not like life at all."
— Hugh Walpole on Brothers and Sisters
"It is as if one's next door neighbour leaned over the garden wall, and remarked, in the same breath and chatty tone, that he had mown the lawn in the morning and thrust the wife's head in the gas-oven after lunch."
— The Church Times on A House and Its Head
"As for Pastors and Masters, it is astonishing, alarming. It is like nothing else in the world. It is a work of genius.... The canvas is crowded; the conversation is close-packed; the unconscious self-revelation of the characters extraordinary. No quotation could do this book justice; the flavour is in the whole; and it is worth discovering there."
— New Statesman
"Her novels are full of vigor and mischief. They are wildly funny as well as sharply wise."
— New York Herald Tribune
"Her scalpel-sharp pen performed startling surgery on the accepted concept of genteel family life."
— Sunday Telegraph
"Miss Compton-Burnett is immensely unfair to most other contemporary British novelists.... Her apparently effortless skill shows them up. They seem to be breathing too hard by comparison."
— New York Herald Tribune on Bullivant and the Lambs [published in England as Manservant and Maidservant]