CORK STREET, NEXT TO THE HATTER'S by Pamela Hansford Johnson


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This is another one of Miss Johnson's beady-eyed, sharp- tongued small satires which reunites some of the characters of The Unspeakable Skipton and Night and Silence Who Is Here at Cosmo Hines' bookshop on Cork Street. Cosmo is a little paunchier than he was; Dorothy Merlin, his wife, is still a very forceful free spirit, now devoting her ""poetic mana"" to an Anti-verse play; their children, Wilfred and Percival (poor blighters) through whom she fulfilled her doubtful femininity are off at school; and then there are their fringe-friends and habitues: Matthew and Jane Pryar returning to England--Matthew is now studying Balzac; Pringle, who is writing a novel, and poses for a too successful picture; Tom Heriot, who attempts to write as appallingly unproducible a play as possible--The Potted Shrimp-etc. Somewhere, one of the characters says: ""The capacity for old nonsense of people in the arts seems to me quite limitless. And most of them, while devoted to the Absurd, have long failed to recognize absurdity, with a small 'a', when they see it."" Miss Johnson recognizes all kinds of absurdity; however this kind of quirky, intellectualized satire is self-limiting. It also involves a kind of brinkmanship which is poised between acuity and aridity.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1965
Publisher: Scribners