THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF L.P. HARTLEY by L.P. Hartley

THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF L.P. HARTLEY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A superb gathering (772 pages)--containing all the stories in The Traveling Grave (1948), The White Wand (1954), Two for the River (1961) and Mrs. Carteret Receives (1971), as well as the early short novel Simonetta Perkins (1925)--by the distinguished British fantastic realist whose masterpiece is the novel The Go-Between (1954). Set in Venice, the playfully Jamesian short novel Simonetta Perkins finds a young Boston-born egoist, Miss Lavinia Johnstone, drawn to abandoning her Puritan past for the love of a gondolier, despite her aversion to love's fiery dart and similar ""vapid rhetoric and dreary rubbish,"" which she calls ""one huge, dangerous, vital, misleading falsehood."" The question soon splits her in two as Lavinia/Simonetta. In ""The Traveling Grave,"" a solemn country gentleman is a coffin collector, and his choicest oddity is a coffin with blades that can dig through floors and walls and follow the owner like a dog. ""The Killing Bottle"" is about a butterfly collector, his cyanide of potassium bottle for killing butterflies, and some human murders in the country. ""The Price of the Absolute"" finds a man buying a celadon vase that is Absolute Beauty incarnate: ""Who can describe perfection? I shall not attempt to, nor even indicate the colour; for, like a pearl, the vase had its own colour, which floated on its surface more lightly than rooming mist hangs on a river. . ."" Darkling gothics, gleaming with the rarer processes of human thought, catching the next world on the wing. Rewards with pleasures.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1986
Publisher: Beaufort