George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview
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L. P. Hartley, Observer

10 March 1935, p. 6

Leslie Poles Hartley (1895-1973), English novelist, author of The Go-Between (1953) and The Hireling (1957).

If the Reverend Charles Hare, Rector of St Athelstan’s, Knype Hill, Suffolk, had been a character in one of Mr Powys’s books, one would not have complained that his portrait was overdrawn; but A Clergyman’s Daughter is a realistic novel, to be judged by canons of verisimilitude founded on daily life; and therefore we can say unhesitatingly that he is exaggerated to the point of being a monster. The milk of human kindness had completely dried up in him; he treated his long-suffering daughter, Dorothy, like a drudge. The trivial round, the common tasks at the Rectory she might have endured; but not the unkindness, above all not the (quite unnecessary) shortage of money. It is not surprising that, after a mouvementée1 evening with Mr Warburton, the village atheist and reprobate, she lost her memory. Nor are her adventures with the hop-pickers, while she was still unaware of her identity, or tramping the streets of London, when she was aware of it, contrary to probability. The penultimate phase of her exile from Knype Hill, when she was mistress of all work in Miss Creevy’s school for girls, does strain one’s credulity, though it is so entertaining that every detail is as diverting to the reader as it was irksome, or worse, to poor Dorothy. But it is surely unnatural that her father should not have answered his daughter’s letters, however annoyed he might be by the tale of her elopement with the ungodly Warburton, and that she

1 Full of incident.


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George Orwell: The Critical Heritage
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