A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys

By John Cowper Powys

"A Glastonbury Romance, first released in 1932, is Powys masterwork, an epic novel of wonderful cumulative strength and lyrical depth. In it he probes the magical and non secular ethos of the small English village of Glastonbury, and the impression upon its population of a legendary culture from the remotest previous of human heritage - the legend of the Grail. Powys's wealthy iconography interweaves the traditional with the trendy, the old with the mythical, and the inventive inside guy with the flora and fauna outdoor him to create a publication of magnificent scope and beauty."

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And remains unresolved through the final chapter. Even with his mission fulfilled, a feverish Kim cannot stably locate himself within the social machinery of AngloIndia: All that while he felt, though he could not put it into words, that his soul was out of gear with its surroundings—a cog-wheel unconnected with any machinery, just like the idle cog-wheel of a cheap Beheea sugar-crusher laid by in a corner . . “I am Kim. I am Kim. ” His soul repeated it again and again. (234) Kipling then tries to reattach his subject-hero to the object-world: Roads were meant to be walked upon, houses to be lived in, cattle to be driven, fields to be tilled, and men and women to be talked to.

Kim’s story exposes a tension between developmental and antidevelopmental time that is as germane to the world of the colonial periphery as to his own lingering youth. 19 The meta-generic effect of Kim does not, in other words, utterly explode the historical and biographical emplotment devices of classic realist fiction, but rather disrupts the naturalized relationship between souls and nations understood as co-subjects of an allegory of progress. That disruption of the soul-nation allegory runs through all the novels to be examined here, though each has its own idiosyncratic relation to colonial politics and to modernist style.

The colonial services took them away from England and prevented, so to speak, their converting the ideals of their boyhood into the mature ideas of men. Strange and curious lands attracted the best of England’s youth since the end of the nineteenth century, deprived her society of the most honest and the most dangerous elements, and guaranteed, in addition to this bliss, a certain conservation, or perhaps petrification, of boyhood noblesse which preserved and infantilized Western moral standards.

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