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Peter Vansittart Biography - Peter Vansittart Comments:

narrative novels time real

Though I have published non-fiction, novels alone excite my ambitions; not plays, short stories, poems, manifestos, sermons. My novels have been appreciated, if not always enjoyed, more by critics than the reading public, which shows no sign of enjoying them at all. This must be partly due to my obsession with language and speculation at the expense of narrative, however much I relish narrative in others. Today I take narrative more seriously, though still relying, perhaps over-relying, on descriptive colour, unexpected imagery, the bizarre and curious, no formula for popular success. The Game and the Ground, The Tournament, Lancelot, and Quintet, have succeeded the most in expressing initial vision and valid situation in fairly accessible terms. Others—A Verdict of Treason, A Sort of Forgetting—had interesting and provocative material, clumsily handled. The Story Teller, my own favourite, failed through excess of ambition, A Little Madness and Sources of Unrest, through too little.

My novels range in time from the second millennium BC, to AD 1986. They share the effect of time, and the apparently forgotten or exterminated on the present, time transmuting, distorting, travestying, ridiculing facts and ideas, loves and hates, generous institutions and renowned reputations. I was long impressed by the woeful distinction between the historical Macbeth and Shakespeare's: by the swift transformation of E.M. Forster's very English Mrs. Moore into an Indian goddess. Such phenomena relate very immediately to my own work, in which myth can be all too real, and the real degenerate into fantasy.

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