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|Posted on Saturday, July 14, 2012 - 02:34 pm: |
Below is a quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE (1933) by John Cowper Powys. But first, has anyone compared the phenomenon of Marianne and Marguerite Le Patourel in GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY (1944) by Elizabeth Goudge with that of Cordelia and Crummie Geard in THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys? No? Well, I just did. They are both sets of sisters, with similar tensions of difference, physically and mentally, as well as a very intriguing psychological confusion of names and aptness of names that lead to semi-confusions of identity, a fact which in the Goudge novel at least is an experience of the reader whiich implicates him or her more deeply in the narrative in a very disturbing way. That may also become true of the Powys novel but this is my first re-reading of it since 1975 and my memory is not good!
"As Cordelia watched the delicate softness of Crummie's limbs during the lengthy ritual, and the whiteness of her flesh thrown into tender shadows by the ruffled hem of her garment, there did come over the plain girl's mind a faint, flickering spasm of revolt. Why should her own poor knees be so bony and rough-textured? Why beneath her bony knees should her legs be like a pair of broom handles? If God had willed everything from the very Beginning of the World, why had He willed everything that all this exquisite delight in one's own body -- Crummie was at the mirror again now, turning this way and that way, as she tried on her new party dress -- should be given to one girl, while another girl felt her body to be a troublesome burden to be carried about? Oh, it didn't depend on having men to admire one, or to embrace one. 'It is the feeling,' thought poor Cordelia, 'of being beautiful to one's own self that matters!'"