An Invitation


⇒  Welcome

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John Cowper Powys
[ ... in French   ]
⇒  Cover

⇒  Preface

⇒  Introduction

⇒  The visit

⇒  Weymouth map c.1930

⇒  Portland map c.1930

⇒  Works quoted

⇒  Postface

A visit to Weymouth with John Cowper Powys     [ ⇒ continue... ]



   The novel Weymouth Sands by John Cowper Powys (1872-1963), belongs to that category of "enchanted" books in which an unprejudiced reader who is willing to submit to the story will soon be ensnared, bewitched, wondering what will happen next, as in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, or Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes.  In this book, before our eyes are displayed the interwoven lives of a dozen people in Weymouth, a little resort by the sea, on the South coast of England. Each of them seems separate in his own little sphere, remote from the others, knowing love, despondency, loneliness, failures, life, in short, with its mixture of worries, battles, hopes which intermingle and sometimes overlap with other lives. We see them jostling along, trying to come to terms with their failures, fighting to try and get some grasp on their destiny. There is a love story, that of Jobber Skald with Perdita Wane, which emerges triumphantly above hate and despair. But the whole book is a network of odd relationships, transient, fragile, doomed, between the different characters. Powys's sympathy and compassion are nevertheless always present and encompass all the elements of the material world. But the main character of this strange book, as in Andrei Bely's Petersburg, and to a certain extent the Combray of Marcel Proust, is without contest the Town itself, in its different moods, under varied skies, along the ever present Sea. And we come to be haunted by the unmistakable beauty and sadness of this Georgian sea-side resort, which although very real is also a creation of the mind.
      Whence this invitation, reader of these lines, to a little walk in the Weymouth of 1920 or so, as it appears in this novel by one of the most original and daring English writers of the 20th century : John Cowper Powys.

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