The old wives' tale

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Penguin Books, Apr 1, 1983 - Fiction - 617 pages
29 Reviews
"Every stout, ageing woman is not grotesque -- far from it! -- but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her form and her movements and in her mind. And the fact that the change from the young girl to the stout ageing woman is made up of an infinite number of infinitesimal changes, each unperceived by her, only intensifies the pathos. It was at (the) instant (of this observation) that I was visited by the idea of writing the book which ultimately became The Old Wives' Tale." So writes Arnold Bennett in the preface to his masterpiece of realistic fiction, a book that follows the lives of two sisters, Constance and Sophia, from simple days in mid-Victorian England through the chaos and tumult of the modern age. Along the way, a novel is built, detail by rich detail, that rivals the great realistic works of Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Maupassant.Critical commentary on classic books is readily available from academics and career critics. But what do the greats have to say about the greats? In addition to the new Introductions we've commissioned from today's top writers and thinkers, we will provide a full Commentary section, excerpting book reviews and other critical essays from major authors -- E. M. Forster on Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf on Forster, etc. We've edited these pieces down to the most salient and provocative passages, or we're running short pieces a

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User Review  - lucybrown - LibraryThing

At long last I have finished it! Arnold Bennett is one of the authors I have always meant to read; however, I never really made much effort to do so. One reason I suppose that I haven't rushed out to ... Read full review

Review: The Old Wives' Tale

User Review  - Goodreads

A wonderful book. No summary can do it justice -- on the surface it is so utterly mundane, and yet Bennett packs entire lives into a few pages, sketches characters deftly and makes it all so entirely believable. Storytelling does not get any more polished than this. Read full review


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About the author (1983)

Arnold Bennett was born on May 27, 1867 in Hanley, Staffordshire, England. He began his working career as a law clerk and later he left the legal field and became an editor for the magazine Woman. His first novel was "A Man from the North." He wrote several novels set in Hanley, the town where he was born. These are known as the Five Town novels. Other titles include "The Babylon Hotel," "The Truth about an Author," and "How to Live on 24 Hours a Day." "The Journal of Arnold Bennett" was published posthumously in three volumes. Bennett died in London of typhoid fever on March 27, 1931.

John Wain, 1925-94, was an English novelist and critic. He served as professor of poetry at Oxford (1973-8) and wrote or edited more than seventy books. His works include the novels A Winter in the Hills (1970) and The Pardoner's Tale (1978); Letters to Five Artists (1969), poems; and critical
studies of Arnold Bennett (1967) and Samuel Johnson (1975).

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