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Barbara Pym (1913–1980)

Teoksen Excellent Women tekijä

28+ teosta 13,436 jäsentä 550 arvostelua 148 Favorited
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Tietoja tekijästä

Novelist Barbara Pym was born in Shropshire and educated at Oxford University. An editor of Africa, an anthropological review, for many years, she published her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, in 1950. Since then, a number of popular works have been published. Often compared with the works of Jane näytä lisää Austen in both manner and subject, Pym's novels are apparently guileless evocations of the foibles of aging and isolated characters. She has a sure, if understated, sense of her characters' psychology and of their unintentionally comic revelations about themselves and their futile lives. After the publication of No Fond Return of Love (1961), all her books were out of print until she was cited, coincidentally by both David Cecil and Philip Larkin, as among the most underestimated novelists of the 20th century. She subsequently completed two successful novels, The Sweet Dove Died (1978) and Quartet in Autumn (1978), the latter a comic-pathetic study of two men and two women in their sixties who work in the same office but lead separate, lonely lives outside. Many of her earlier books have since been reprinted, including Excellent Women (1952) and A Glass of Blessings (1958), both perceptive psychological studies of aging women taken advantage of by others. A posthumous novel, A Few Green Leaves (1980), is a superb comedy of provincial village life. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän

Tekijän teokset

Excellent Women (1952) 2,775 kappaletta, 125 arvostelua
Syksyinen seurue (1977) 1,293 kappaletta, 54 arvostelua
Jane and Prudence (1953) 1,187 kappaletta, 57 arvostelua
Some Tame Gazelle (1950) 1,086 kappaletta, 48 arvostelua
A Glass of Blessings (1958) 931 kappaletta, 40 arvostelua
No Fond Return of Love (1961) 881 kappaletta, 26 arvostelua
Crampton Hodnet (1985) 868 kappaletta, 39 arvostelua
Less Than Angels (1955) 851 kappaletta, 31 arvostelua
The Sweet Dove Died (1978) 721 kappaletta, 31 arvostelua
An Unsuitable Attachment (1982) 701 kappaletta, 19 arvostelua
A Few Green Leaves (1980) 672 kappaletta, 27 arvostelua
An Academic Question (1986) 506 kappaletta, 25 arvostelua
Civil to Strangers (1987) 425 kappaletta, 15 arvostelua

Associated Works

The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Avustaja, eräät painokset560 kappaletta, 8 arvostelua
The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories (1994) — Avustaja — 326 kappaletta
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (1996) — Avustaja — 120 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Virallinen nimi
Pym, Barbara Mary Crampton
Finstock churchyard, Finstock, Oxfordshire, England
Maa (karttaa varten)
England, UK
Oswestry, Shropshire, England, UK
Finstock, Oxfordshire, England, UK
breast cancer
Oswestry, Shropshire, England, UK
Finstock, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Huyton College, Liverpool, UK
Oxford University (St. Hilda's College)
editorial secretary (International African Institute, London)
Amery, Julian (lover)
Pym, Hilary (sister)
Women's Royal Naval Service (WWII)
Laura Morris (Laura Morris Literary Agency) - estate
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Barbara Mary Crampton Pym was born to Frederic and Irena Pym on June 2, 1913, in the town of Oswestry, Shropshire. S In 1931, Barbara entered St. Hilda's College at Oxford. In 1940, Barbara joined the Wrens (Women's Royal Naval Service), and in 1944, she was posted to Naples until the end of the war. After the war, Barbara took a job at the International African Institute in London, and soon became the assistant editor for the journal Africa. In 1971 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy; in 1974 she suffered a minor stroke. She then retired from the Institute and went to live with her sister Hilary. She died at the Michael Sobell House, a hospice in Oxford, on January 11, 1980. She is buried in the churchyard at Finstock.



Barbara Pym Centenary - General discussion., Virago Modern Classics (joulukuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary: Civil to Strangers, Virago Modern Classics (joulukuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary - An Academic Question, Virago Modern Classics (marraskuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary - An Unsuitable Attachment, Virago Modern Classics (marraskuu 2013)
Barbara Pym Centenary: Some Tame Gazelle, Virago Modern Classics (lokakuuta 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary: Crampton Hodnet, Virago Modern Classics (lokakuuta 2013)
Barbara Pym Centenary: A Few Green Leaves, Virago Modern Classics (elokuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary: The Sweet Dove Died, Virago Modern Classics (elokuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary: A Glass of Blessings, Virago Modern Classics (heinäkuu 2013)
Barbara Pym Centenary: Less than Angels, Virago Modern Classics (toukokuu 2013)
Barbara Pym centenary: Jane and Prudence, Virago Modern Classics (maaliskuu 2013)
Barbara Pym Centenary: Excellent Women, Virago Modern Classics (maaliskuu 2013)
July: Reading Barbara Pym, Monthly Author Reads (heinäkuu 2010)
Jane and Prudence (with spoliers), Barbara Pym (lokakuuta 2009)


I don't think I was quite prepared for Less than Angels, coming quite late in my Pym education. It is certainly classic Barbara Pym, with its disarming changes of perspective, its ironic and fierce (but rarely judgmental) observations of everyday figures, and its moments of heightened absurdity, here the anthropologist performing ritual dances in an African mask in an otherwise calm English suburb.

By focusing on the young (but, of course, Pym was hardly old when she wrote this novel), the author transmutes her usual world weary melancholy into a great sense of uncertainty: young people for whom it is still possible the world might yield up all of its cornucopia of treasures... even as we're aware that the middle-aged characters in the story have settled into their routines, half complacent and half unsatisfied.

There isn't really a central character here; Tom Mallow, he of the grey eyes and aristocratic bearing, seems like the most likely candidate, but we end up spending most of our time with Deirdre and Catherine, his two paramours. They both deliver in their own ways, especially when caught off-guard by a plot twist late in the novel that may be unique among Pym's works. The world here is again one of quietly Anglican lives and of the secular anthropologist, desperate for a grant equal to their intellectual talents but usually disappointed.

I suspect at this stage in my life I prefer Pym's more evidently amusing novels: Jane and Prudence, Some Tame Gazelle, Crampton Hodnet among them. But Less than Angels intrigues in its own way as a study of melancholy, and rewards with its cavalcade of characters attempting to follow etiquette but often grievously aware that others around them are taking liberties. Classic Pym in many ways.
… (lisätietoja)
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therebelprince | 30 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 21, 2024 |
(2020 has become my year of rereading the novels of Barbara Pym, my favourite novelist - "favourite" in the sense of "speaks most to my soul", not as in "greatest" or "best"; I believe she would have appreciated the distinction. This is my revised review.)

"Perhaps a nourishing milky drink was needed to bring her down to earth but it seemed an unromantic end to the evening."

In an unprepossessing village, two middle-aged spinster sisters live unprepossessing lives. Harriet spends her days being courted by an Italian Count for whom she feels no love, and her nights inventing excuses to cook meals or knit pullovers for an endless array of young, attractive curates who have no love to give her. Belinda, meanwhile, nurses a lifelong unrequited love only for one man: the married Archdeacon, Henry Hoccleve, with whom she had a brief love when they were undergraduates three decades earlier. Around them spiral love affairs, dissatisfied "decayed gentlewomen", and religious rivalries.

Barbara Pym's first novel was written when she was 22, although heavily revised before she finally got it published in her late 30s. (In between, a whole lot of self-development, failed writings, and WWII had passed.) Originally written as a knowing roman a clef for her friends, Pym casts herself and her sister in the lead roles, with her undergraduate love taking the part of the Archdeacon. Some Tame Gazelle has much of Pym's charm, and her anthropological technique of characterisation by way of minute details. It is often wryly funny, from the attempts by a group of guests to ignore what is clearly tinned soup with some potato water(!) added to a young man unsure whether a spinster quoting Ovid at him is hinting he should leave or whether she has forgotten what the lines actually mean. (It's the latter.) And that's without mentioning a sequence wherein a group of refined and dowdy churchgoing ladies find themselves giggling over a particularly phallic African musical instrument.

Some Tame Gazelle carries with it most of Pym's core themes - the choice between taking a risk to find fulfillment, or settling for comfortable dissatisfaction; class position and social status in a (very) small pond; the importance of food, clothing, and religion - or rather, the culture of religion rather than belief as such - and owes much to the tradition of English "high comedy" that dated back to Austen and had thrived in Pym's youth through authors such as E.F. Benson and (although more farcical) P.G. Wodehouse. The novel also toys with the notion of subjectivity, which would become one of her hallmarks, as characters are viewed from different perspectives, leading us to realise how difficult true human connection is, and how funny or tragic a life can seem to those who are not living it. (She has not perfected this yet.)

It is not, I think, Pym's greatest work. The novel carries too many traces of youth, even a sense of something derivative in the heavy use of literary quotations. Some of the characters (Edith Liversidge among them) bear the uncomfortable contrasts of having changed between drafts, while others (Edgar Donne) are early versions of types she will perfect in the near future. The character of Belinda Bede - representing the purest version of young Barbara - is even a little unsufferable. Many of Pym's heroines will carry unrequited loves and be charming, but Belinda is just a doormat, waiting patiently for any time Henry's wife goes away, to dote on him, yet always knowing that after 30 years she will have to settle for distant love, expecting nothing in return. (To be fair, this is how young Barbara felt about her own love, also named Henry, and her diaries become exhausting around this time, with her intention to love him forever, no matter what he may feel.)

Yet a merely good Pym is nevertheless food for the soul. There is much to give amusement and even occasionally insight. As Belinda herself says, "I'm sure we need plenty of tea after all this excitement."
… (lisätietoja)
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therebelprince | 47 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 21, 2024 |
"Oh, I know it's a trivial detail... but those are the things that make up life, aren't they?"

A high 3 stars. Published in 1961, this was for many years Pym's last published novel, and it's full of her usual character insights and delectably delicate interactions. I think this one will grow on me with repeat readings.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
therebelprince | 25 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 21, 2024 |
A volume I recommend only for hardcore enthusiasts, but useful for those interested in the development of a notable author.

Barbara Pym's oeuvre consists of twelve novels and a posthumous "autobiography" compiled from her diaries and letters. These are all satisfying, even if a couple of the works which were initially rejected by publishers in the 1960s, only merited release because of her "comeback" in the late 1970s. Alongside this body of work, however, Pym's archives included half a dozen unpublished novels (some unfinished) and a few dozen short stories and miscellaneous pieces. The critical consensus is that many of the short stories are not worth public interest, written as they were during her youth or specifically for publication in "women's magazines" of the era - and rejected even by them! Here, Pym's literary executors cobble together a selection of the best material, which has become the final piece in the Pym puzzle.

Civil to Strangers and other Writings contains one complete novel, three novellas, four short stories, and an autobiographical radio talk. The eponymous novel was written when Pym was 23, and is a fairly perfunctory village romance about the wife of an arrogant, vague novelist, who attempts to return the spark to their marriage when a handsome Hungarian man moves into town. The novel feels very much like a draft, with moments of Pymian insight and observational humour, and the undertone of repressed sorrow that lurks around the corner of all of her works. Still, it is clear that the young, still very naive, Barbara was unable to properly imagine a marriage, and she is reduced more heavily here to stereotype. Additionally, most of the chapters have a surface-level quality; the artist has not yet added the detail and shading to the primary colours. Pym had such a distinctive narrative voice, but here we are seeing her influences rather than she herself.

The three additional novellas - all from the late 1930s - are excerpts of complete or near-complete works in the archive, polished by literary executor Hazel Holt. Pym was living in her childhood home in Shropshire, preparing the house for the imminent war, and wondering what she would do with her life. Each of these novels feels like an attempt to traverse a different path, before she found her ultimate style. Gervase and Flora is a harmless story about a young woman who follows her true love to Finland, where he has found a job and a beautiful Finnish lass; Home Front is a realist slice-of-life novel about an English village at the commencement of the War; and So Very Secret is a kind of spy novel, centered around an unexpected lead, a vicar's daughter, who discovers that a missing friend was involved in espionage, and sets out to find her.

All of these works are of great interest to the Pym scholar, as are the previously- unpublished short story So, Some Tempestuous Morn and a piece commissioned very late in Pym's life for the Church Times, called The Christmas Visit, both of which resurrect characters from the author's previous novels. However it is fair to say that all of them are examples of a writer-in-training, rather than a novel that would interest a newcomer or even an average fan. I will never complain about additional words by this author, but I think this volume's attractiveness was related to a kind of "Pymania" that took place during the 1980s, after the author's death.

More worthy, perhaps, are the other two short stories. Goodbye, Balkan Capital!, written during the War but never previously published, is another of the author's many reflections on unrequited love, and the way we turn past memories into fantasy, and it is really quite touching. Across a Crowded Room was one of the author's last pieces, commissioned by The New Yorker in the final year of her life, and is a neat example of her late style. Finally the short radio talk, Finding a Voice (1978), sees Barbara reflecting on her particular narrative style, and the problems this caused during the 1960s and early 1970s when no publisher would accept her novels.

A collection of historical interest, but perhaps not much more.
… (lisätietoja)
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therebelprince | 14 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 21, 2024 |



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Associated Authors

Hazel Holt Editor, Foreword
Hilary Pym Editor
Jackie Schuman Cover designer
Jessie Ford Cover artist
Dora Winkler Translator
Katarzyna Klein Cover artist
Bernard Turle Translator
Elif Uras Translator
Kaori Ashizu Translator
Djuke Houweling Translator
Debra McFarlane Illustrator
Orla Kiely Cover designer
Sabine Porte Translator
Jaime Zulaika Translator
A. N. Wilson Introduction
Geri Halligan Narrator
Jilly Cooper Introduction
Mavis Cheek Introduction
Lidia Zazo Translator
John Bayley Introduction
Paul Binding Introduction
Louis de Bernières Introduction
Nicoletta ROSATI Translator
Salley Vickers Introduction
Philip Larkin Foreword
Kate Saunders Introduction


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