This week I’ve been teaching George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-2) to my lovely group of first-years. One question that kept coming up centred on the narrator’s voice.
I’ve been very busy this summer, visiting archives across the UK to look at their holdings of Stevie Smith manuscripts. Most of Smith’s materials are in the University of Tulsa (which I’m hoping to visit next summer), and those in the UK are quite scattered. I don’t mind. It’s a nice excuse to visit different cities.
So first on my list was Leeds, a city which I’d never visited before.
Never again will I weep
And wring my hands
And beat my head against the wall
Me nolentem fata trahunt
When I have had enough
I will arise
And go unto my Father
And I will say to Him:
Father, I have had enough.
This week, I’ve been working on Stevie Smith’s last novel: The Holiday.
Smith’s very attracted to the idea of the holiday. Everyday reality could be draining. A friend remembered, ‘She was always exhausted, forcing herself to stay erect when she would have liked to lie down.’
So her characters go away, or fantasise about going away.