Monday, 9 January 2012

Interim - Dorothy Richardson

The fifth of Richardson’s Pilgrimage series and I can only say these are works of genius. Engaging, witty, written with great simplicity and still finding room to experiment with form and style. Miriam Henderson’s development is so subtly told, that you are carried along, unaware of much change until you glance back and read, again, the fragile uncertainty of the know-it-all teenager of the first book.

Whilst Miriam still struggles with some of her pre-occupations (especially that of adequately conveying her inner life to others – which must make these not only the first stream of consciousness novels, but amongst the first meta-narratives), she has matured. Still uncertain about much that goes on around her, she is independent and living a life that quietly questions many of the male-centred and dominated establishments of the day.

To have sustained such a detailed and endlessly fascinating psychological study of a single character with such style and maturity; to write so well and explore the way in which words can convey the inner life of a person; to conjure up a picture of society with all its quirks, prejudices, and possibilities; to chart the progress of new ways of thinking; and still not be feted alongside the likes of Woolf, Joyce, and other modernists, suggests to me that there is something sadly awry in the world of literature.