Self went browsing for on-line reviews of Black Lamb, Grey Falcon (which she always does when she’s wavering), and after reading a couple of meaty ones on Amazon, has decided that she should approach the book as a travelogue. Because then it works.
And now she also has a word to describe the affliction of a Rebecca West Sentence (henceforth to be known as RWS): prolixity.
Self’s impatience about Black Lamb, Grey Falcon (henceforth to be known as BLGF) stems from the fact that she just finished reading Jane Goodall. Goodall is a writer who makes it easy for readers to step into her world because she is vivid without being circumlocutious.
On the other hand, when Rebecca West gets lumped together in a train carriage with German passengers in first class, one simply doesn’t know whether to believe her, because she turns them all into caricatures. (Earlier, she called them all kinds of names in her head, but now she’s had time to get used to them. If this is the way she’s going to be writing about each and every person she meets on her journey, then no wonder the book is over a thousand pages):
They were all of them falling to pieces under the emotional and intellectual strain laid on them by their Government, poor Laocoons strangled by red tape. It was obvious that getting the population into this state the Nazis had guaranteed the continuance of their system; for none of these people could have given any effective support to any rival party that wanted to seize power, and indeed their affairs, which were thoroughly typical, were in such an inextricable state of confusion that no sane party would now wish to take over the government, since it would certainly see nothing but failure ahead . . . I reflected that if a train were filled with the citizens of the Western Roman Empire in the fourth century, they would have made much the same complaints.
And, just before getting up to make herself some coffee, self reads this (p. 33):
A little while later my husband and I went and had dinner in the wagon-restaurant, which was Yugoslavian and extremely good. When we came back the businessman was telling how, sitting at his desk in his office just after the war, he had seen the bodies of three men fall past his windows . . .
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.