Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Two Influences on L. P. Hartley's the Go-Between

Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Two Influences on L. P. Hartley's the Go-Between

Article excerpt

The few critics who have written about L. P. Hartley agree that the principal influences on his work in general are Emily Bronte, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne. More particularly, Giorgio Melchiori has established beyond doubt that passages in Hartley's most famous novel, The Go-Between, owe a great deal to Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" ("The English Novelist and the American Tradition" [Sewanee Review. Vol 68, Issue 18, 1960]: 502-15). More recently, in this very journal, I suggested that when Hartley in The Go-Between has Leo Colston picturing himself "threading [his] way through the Zodiac, calling on one star after another (The Go-Between [London: Penguin Classics, 2000]: 83), Hartley has in mind the British poet George Barker's odd little poem "News of the World" ("Wanderers in the Zodiac: George Barker and L. P. Hartley" [Notes on Contemporary Literature, 26, 1996]: 8).

There are two further influences on The Go-Between, and both concern members of the Maudsley family, with whom Hartley's schoolboy protagonist Leo Colston stays during a few weeks of the summer of 1900. Leo notices a trait of rapacity in Marian Maudsley:

   She was wearing what I afterwards came to think of  as her
   'hooded' look. Her father's long eyelids drooped over her eyes,
   leaving under them a glint of blue so deep and liquid
   that it might have been slanting through an unshed tear. Her
   hair was bright with sunshine, but her face, which was full like
   her mother's . … 
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