THE WILD GARDEN by Angus Wilson


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A beautifully modulated, at times almost musical divertissement, from Angus Wilson on his development as a novelist. Originally three University of California lectures, the book succeeds largely through the employment of Wilson's very precise, yet at the same time very personalized, voice. It evolves step by step from carefully selected events and experiences, which in one way or another have been incorporated in his creations, towards a commentary illuminating the nature of imagination, inspiration and the narrative art in general. A pattern-in-process, it is significant less because the weaver has a secure reputation as an English novelist of his generation, but rather because the critical form- reflective and biographical- has been out of fashion and is here stunningly revived. Two symbols, Mr. Wilson suggests, trigger all his themes: the ""wild garden"" and ""the clearing (or the garden) in the wild""- the first artificial, the second real, yet neither one is ""good"" or ""bad""; each affects the other, each is inextricably involved in the emotional undergrowth; thus the characters' agonizing awareness of the unlived life beneath even the sunniest landscape, be it cosmopolitan or provincial, from the socio-political satires to the sadomasochist psychodramas; a tragicomic everyday world turning topsy-turvy, the latent becoming in overt, innocence showing up as ignorance. Only self-realization is the saving remnant, but that takes pain and pruning. An esthetic case-history-both very frank and very refined.

Publisher: Univ. of California