By Michael Cotsell (auth.)
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Additional info for Barbara Pym
This is not just 30 Barbara Pym feminine sensitivity, but a position at once inside and outside the socially acceptable. Trying to please a young girl, Cassandra praises her flower arrangement for the church: 'I thought it looked so cool, like an oasis,' she added, and then felt that this was a silly comparison, as it implied that the rest of the church was like a desert, and was thus uncomplimentary to the rector and the congregation. (fo. 5) Though self-accusing, the thought allows the mind to follow, even as it is embarrassed by, an emotion that is not quite in accord.
Otherwise the work has little merit. Were proof necessary, the existence if this series of unpublished works would show how important the disappointment over Henry Harvey was for Pym's fiction. The Harvey affair established in her writing the centrality of the theme of disappointment and its overcoming through fidelity to memory (in 'Beatrice Wyatt' we read that Hughie is too young 'to have a nice lumber room mind like Beatrice' - MS 6/1-3, fo. 172). It would be mistaken, however, to see the affair as an explanation of all the subsequent fiction, for what the novels of this period conclusively prove is that, when the emotion over Harvey was dominant, Pym was not a successful novelist.
Ch. 22). Pym registers the Oswestry and Oxford 21 comic and touching flow of desire through this dull, respectable church world. This establishing move can perhaps be seen as Pym bringing her Oxford life back to Oswestry. We have seen that at Oswestry were family, security, sibling warmth, a place for the affections which Pym had exposed to hurt at Oxford. The feeling of home (the two sisters: Barbara did not live with Hilary at Oxford) and of home doings in the novel strongly suggests this.