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232 REVIEWS 1. Bennett Land E. J. D. Warrillow, ARNOLD BENWETT AND STOKE-ON-TRENT, Stoke-on-Trent: Etruscan Publications, 1966. 30s. This is a book that anyone who is very much interested in Arnold Bennett will want to have. It has defects aplenty, and also unique virtues. The author is a Five Towns photographer who 1 i kes Bennett: he does not pretend to be a Bennett scholar; and criticism of his book from a scholarly standpoint may be a piece of effrontery. The book was casually planned and casually executed. It purports to be a guide to Bennett land, and the analysis begins with THE OLD WIVES' TALE, identifying the landmarks chapter by chapter. It is a laborious method, involving much repetition, and is presently abandoned; but it should have been abandoned in manuscript. What the reader sees is that Warrillow began by imagining that he could give a complete account, and soon had to give up. And he thereupon gave up much else; for he investigates THE OLD WIVES' TALE, THE CARD, ANNA OF THE FIVE TOWNS, CLAYHANGER, and three short stories, and ignores the settings of half a dozen other Five Towns novels and a multitude of other stories, (including the most famous ones). Nor does he attempt to assess Bennett's use of the Five Towns, how limited or comprehensive it was, how accurate, how imaginative. The discussion confines itself to identifying and describing the landmarks and giving occasional historical details about them. Frequently the information is irrelevant—or relevant to someone interested in miscellaneous details about buildings and events in the Five Towns, not relevant to someone interested in Bennett. Some of the information in the book is inaccurate, especially in the introductory chapter on Bennett's life. For instance, Warrillow says that Bennett left grammar school at Easter 1885 and entered his father's law office (p. 24); but the date for both events is probably 1883, He says that in 1887 the young Bennett contributed news items to the Staffordshire SENTINEL, but in fact he contributed them to the Staffordshire KNOT. Bennett did not write a precis of Grant Allen's serial WHAT'S 8RED IN THE BONE, but a parody of it; he did not do it when he was still in the Five Towns but four years after he went to London; he won twenty guineas for the parody, not twenty pounds; he went to London and lived first in Hornsey, not in Knightsbridge; etc. Later in the book other facts (true so far as I know) cause another sort of trouble, Warrillow says that the Free Library at the Wedgwood Institute opened in 1870 and that Sophia's reference to it in THE OLD WIVES' TALE enables us to date certain events of the novel, notably her flirtation with Gerald Scales, which would then occur in 1871 or 1872. since she mentions to him that the Library has been opened more than a year. Two pages further on Warn 1 low alludes to the marriage of Constance and Samuel in 1867, a date that Bennett himself provides in the book. Since Constance and Samuel do not marry until a year or so after Sophia elopes with Gerald, and since Sophia and Gerald are in Paris before the Franco-Prussian War, there is something wrong that Warrillow himself takes no notice of. Assuming that the Wedgwood Library was indeed founded in 1870, Bennett is shown to be unconcerned to make all his historical dates mesh, and the Franco-Prussian War was assuredly more important for him to fix accurately than the date of the opening of the Library. What did concern him was to make the internal chronology of the 233 novel consistent It is a complex and largely hidden chronology, and an analysis of it shows Bennett to have been accurate at every point except a few minor details. The flirtation between Scphia and Gerald was all over with, and they were married, by July 2nd or 3rd, 1866. The vi rute of Viarri1 low's book is first of all that it does identify many of the Bennett landmarks, and gives the names they bore in fact and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 232-233
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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