The Old Wives' Tale (English Library)

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9780140431636: The Old Wives' Tale (English Library)

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1911 edition. Excerpt: ... real haute couture was practised therein; and Gerald was remembered there by name. Sophia had gone in trembling and ashamed, yet in her heart courageously determined to emerge uncompromisingly French. But the models frightened her. They surpassed even the most fantastic things that she had seen in the streets. She recoiled before them and seemed to hide for refuge in Gerald, as it were appealing to him for moral protection, and answering to him instead of to the saleswoman when the saleswoman offered remarks in stiff English. The prices also frightened her. The simplest trifle here cost sixteen pounds; and her mother's historic 'silk,' whose elaborateness had cost twelve pounds, was supposed to have approached the inexpressible! Gerald said that she was not to think about prices. She was, however, forced by some instinct to think about prices--she who at home had scorned the narrowness of life in the Square. In the Square she was understood to be quite without commonsense, hopelessly imprudent; yet here, a spring of sagacity seemed to be welling up in her all the time, a continual antidote against the general madness in which she found herself. With extraordinary rapidity she had formed a habit of preaching moderation to Gerald. She hated to ' see money thrown away,' and her notion of the boundary line between throwing money away and judiciously spending it was still the notion of the Square. Gerald would laugh. But she would say, piqued and blushing, but self-sure: "You can laugh!" It was all deliciously agreeable. On this evening she wore the first of the new costumes. She had worn it all day. Characteristically she had chosen something which was not too special for either afternoon or evening, for either warm or cold weather. It was of pale...

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From the Inside Flap:

With a New Introduction by Francine Prose
Commentary by Rebecca West, W. Somerset Maugham,
Virginia Woolf, H. G. Wells, Henry James, and J. B. Priestley

" [Arnold Bennett's] superb Old Wives' Tale, wandering from person to person and from scene to scene, is by far the finest 'long novel' that has been written in English and in the English fashion, in this generation."
--H. G. Wells

First published in 1908, The Old Wives' Tale affirms the integrity of ordinary lives as it tells the story of the Baines sisters--shy, retiring Constance and defiant, romantic Sophia--over the course of nearly half a century. Bennett traces the sisters' lives from childhood in their father's drapery shop in provincial Bursley, England, during the mid-Victorian era, through their married lives, to the modern industrial age, when they are reunited as old women. The setting moves from the Five Towns of Staffordshire to exotic and cosmopolitan Paris, while the action moves from the subdued domestic routine of the Baines household to the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.


"Like Wordsworth, [Arnold Bennett] has triumphed over the habitual; he has not let it disguise the particle of beauty from him."--Rebecca West

ARNOLD BENNETT (1867-1931) looked to Flaubert, Maupassant, and Balzac for inspiration in the fashioning of his own acutely realistic novels, including his masterpiece, The Old Wives' Tale (1908). His first novel was A Man from the North (1898), and he is also known for his Clayhanger trilogy (1910-16).

The author of thirteen books of fiction, FRANCINE PROSE is a
fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers.

About the Author:

ARNOLD BENNETT was born in Staffordshire on May 27, 1867, the son of a solictor. Rather than following his father into the law, Bennett moved to London at the age of twenty-one and began a career in writing . His first novel, "The Man from the North," was published in 1898 during a spell as editor of a periodical -- throughout his life journalism supplemented his writing career. In 1902 Bennett moved to Paris, married, and published some of his best known novels, most of which were set in The Potteries district where he grew up: "Anna of the Five Towns "(1902), "The Old Wives Tale" (1908), and the "Clayhanger" series (1910-1918). These works, as well as several successful plays, established him both in Europe and America as one of the most popular and acclaimed writers of his era. Bennett returned to England in 1912, and during the First World War worked for Lord Beaverbrook in the Ministry of Information. In 1921, separated from his first wife, he fell in love with an actress, Dorothy Cheston, with whom he had a child. He received the James Tait Black Award for his novel "Riceyman Steps" in 1923. Arnold Bennett died of typhoid in London on March 27, 1931.

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Arnold Bennett
Published by Penguin Classics (1983)
ISBN 10: 0140431632 ISBN 13: 9780140431636
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1983. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140431632

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