Arnold Bennett: A Portrait Done at Home, Together with 170 Letters from A. B

Arnold Bennett: A Portrait Done at Home, Together with 170 Letters from A. B

Arnold Bennett: A Portrait Done at Home, Together with 170 Letters from A. B

Arnold Bennett: A Portrait Done at Home, Together with 170 Letters from A. B

Excerpt

I have been asked on several occasions to write articles about Arnold Bennett.

The notion of doing so has been distasteful to me from many points of view -- the sense of my own inadequacy for the task, the apprehension of his own completeness of expression, and, in his articles and essays, of self-expression; but especially having regard to his own attitude, speaking generally, to outpourings with a personal note.

Passing in review, lately, my feelings upon this matter, I found an answer to or an embodiment of some of them -- in the almost miraculous way we do, at times, when occupied by a particular problem -- in the succinct statement of a distinguished man. For in the midst of my reflections I opened a newspaper that I carried under my arm and read the following from an excerpt out of Dean Inge book Vale.

'The curiosity of the public about the private lives of men and women is so great, that the man with two Talents as well as the man with five has reason to fear that his imaginary merits may be disclosed, and his frailties dragged from their dread abode, to tickle the ear of the groundlings when he is no longer there to defend himself.

'I wish to be remembered outside my family circle,' the Dean continues, 'only by my books, into which I have put what I wanted to say to the public.'

This appears a final and complete statement for the inactive pen as far as a great man's life is concerned.

By its very strength, however, the statement stimulates us to consider at least one line of argument that it overrules. For, might it not be said with truth that it is by what a man does not want to say to the public, and by his failures to express himself, that a world of truth about him is revealed? And not only truth about him but about humanity?

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