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A Short Walk in Williams Park

A Short Walk in Williams Park

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A Short Walk in Williams Park

Bewertungen:
3.5/5 (2 Bewertungen)
Länge:
122 Seiten
2 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 30, 2018
ISBN:
9781941147023
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Francis Norton is an elderly bachelor who enjoys nothing better than spending a warm day outside in one of London’s parks. When one afternoon he innocently overhears the earnest conversation of two young lovers, Edward and Mirrie, whose relationship is complicated by Edward’s unhappy marriage to a drunken wife, Francis decides to interfere in an attempt to help the pair. But despite his good intentions, his matchmaking efforts have unexpected consequences, and he soon finds himself caught up in a complicated triangle involving blackmail, a mysterious death, and courtroom intrigue. Will Francis’s well-meaning manipulations lead to a happy ending for his two young friends, or will his meddling end in tragedy and disaster? 

Found among C.H.B. Kitchin’s papers after his death, A Short Walk in Williams Park was published posthumously in 1971. As L.P. Hartley writes in his Foreword, this short novel has the same distinction of style as Kitchin’s other acclaimed works and displays many of its author’s finest qualities. Republished here for the first time, Kitchin’s final book joins his Ten Pollitt Place (1957) and The Book of Life (1960), both also recently reprinted by Valancourt.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 30, 2018
ISBN:
9781941147023
Format:
Buch

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A Short Walk in Williams Park - C. H. B. Kitchin

Also Available By C.H.B. Kitchin

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A Short Walk in Williams Park

by

C.H.B. KITCHIN

With a Foreword by

L.P. HARTLEY

VALANCOURT BOOKS

A Short Walk in Williams Park by C.H.B. Kitchin

First published London: Chatto & Windus, 1971

First Valancourt Books edition 2014

Copyright © 1971 by the Estate of C.H.B. Kitchin

Foreword © 1971 by L.P. Hartley, reprinted by permission of The Society of Authors, as the Literary Representatives of the Estate of L.P. Hartley.

Published by Valancourt Books, Richmond, Virginia

http://www.valancourtbooks.com

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without prior written consent of the publisher, constitutes an infringement of the copyright law.

Cover art and design by M. S. Corley

FOREWORD

My friend, C.H.B. Kitchin, was the most talented man I have ever known. That is to say, the man who had the most talents. He had a talent for almost everything except games—games with a physical basis—and perhaps he would have had a talent for them, if he had wanted to.

He was a first-rate bridge-player and an absorbed chess-player. He was also an accomplished musician, and the most gifted improviser on the piano I have ever heard. Not only could he improvise on his own account but he could produce a piece in the style of any composer you liked to name. More than that, he would describe, in musical terms, the characters of his friends, very recognisably and sometimes to their embarrassment.

He was a classical scholar (at Merton, I think), and a rather avant-garde poet, one of the earliest contributors to Wheels.

He was also an ardent botanist, and it would have been hard to catch him out on the Latin name of any plant. For a time he drove a motor-car (a blue Rolls-Royce, I think) with the same enthusiasm he applied to all his interests. He was a bon viveur, though wine never appealed to him, and some people were critical of his taste in food, though he went from restaurant to restaurant.

During the Second War he became a schoolmaster and a landowner in Herefordshire. Later he took a house on the Helford River and a motor-yacht, dressing in appropriate costume, for clothes always meant a great deal to him, and he bought three new suits a year.

Betting was one of his passions, not on the racecourse, but at the tables at Monte Carlo. I don’t think he made much money that way, nor from dog-racing, the strangest of his many interests. For not only did he keep dogs of his own (mingling, no doubt with other dog-fanciers very different from himself), he also followed very seriously each individual animal’s form and performance.

After Cornwall he combined two very different occupations, agriculture and algebra. He soon tired of the first, but of the second he said, I have been through the algebra book twice. I have no idea to which algebra book he referred, but no doubt it helped to satisfy the intellectual craving which went with so many of his cravings and was so contradictory to them, for he was highly superstitious and once rebuked me severely for bringing snowdrops into the house. At the sight of a lonely magpie he would become really disturbed, and would search the countryside to find a mate as an antidote for it. And his belief in magic went so far that he believed, or professed to believe, that when he had read the entire works of Balzac the war would be over.

From this it can be gathered that he was rich, but from inherited rather than from earned income. I doubt if he made much money at the Bar, or at the Stock Exchange, of both of which institutions he was at one time a member. But it was not true to say of him, as someone did, He has a disinterested interest in money. He was very much interested in it even when he had so much that it could have made little difference to him: but he had towards it, as he had to many things, an attitude at once abstract and extremely personal, which may have given his less fortunate friends the impression that he was above the battle (which he was not). For his experience at the Bar and the Stock Exchange taught him many niceties of law and business which he could not have picked up for himself and which he afterwards used in his novels—as, for example, that it was a legal offence to lend a friend sleeping-pills—a point he brings up in A Short Walk in Williams Park.

But if he did not make money by more commonplace methods he made it by his passion for collecting—first editions, Georgian silver, French paperweights and when he had disposed of most of them, at a considerable profit (for he had seen the signs of which way the market was going), Meissen tea-pots. These he was still collecting in his last months; and his interest in the sales-room is the setting and one might almost say the inspiration of his beautiful middle-period novel, The Auction Sale.

How much he liked these objets dart for themselves it would be hard to say. Without being a connoisseur, he understood them and knew about them; but when he sold them at Christie’s one did not feel he was parting from a friend—rather from something that had served its turn, and justified its money-making possibilities.

He didn’t dislike change; it was in fact a constant stimulant to him, and during the many years I knew him he must have changed his place of abode nearly twenty times.

But in spite of these multitudinous interests which he would take up and then discard—I am Jack of all trades and master of none,—he once said to me, rather bitterly, his chief and lasting interest was in the writing of fiction. He started off in the early ’twenties with a swing—with Streamers Waving and Mr. Balcony—novels in which his sense of fantasy found their earliest expression. A new voice, a new note, recognised by the reviewers but not so much by the public. Then came Death of My Aunt: the detective story which made his name. I remember passing through Paris and seeing a serial translation of it in lIntransigeant.

What could an author in his late twenties hope for more? It was a best-seller. And yet though all his subsequent novels had the same distinction of style, for he couldn’t write an awkward sentence, they didn’t catch on as the others had. They had the same literary and imaginative qualities, but except for The Auction Sale, his masterpiece which is now being reprinted, they did not have their due recognition from the public, in spite of their knowledge of the world, and of what men live by. Perhaps his many aptitudes were a handi­cap.

He was fascinated by the form of the detective story, in which Death of My Aunt had made such an outstanding success. Whether he would have been wiser to write his straight novels under another name, I have sometimes wondered. His readers looked for the one and found the other. His ingenuity and the activity of his mind were such that a cross-word puzzle dissolved beneath his glance. But in some cases he tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to combine the two, the cleverness, of which he had plenty, and the emotion of which he also had plenty—as The Auction Sale abundantly shows—and they did not always mix.

It is my privilege to write a foreword to his last book, A Short Walk in Williams Park. It has many of his finest qualities, especially at the opening; his sense of the poetic aspects of the London scene, especially where they are less likely to be looked for; the seasons and the times of day, to which he was as sensitive as to the shortcomings and over-reachings of the Fandango Restaurant.

A Short Walk in Williams Park is not one of his best books (I think he thought so himself). Francis, through whose experience we read the story, is (like other characters in Clifford Kitchin’s novels) half a detective and half a benefactor; someone whose money, and general good will, gives him power over the lives of other people less fortunate and less harassed, and less percipient (detective-wise) than he. Where would Barbara and Edward and the others be, if Francis hadn’t solved the question of where the innocent-looking box of barbiturates came from?

He is the deus ex machina, the benevolent despot, of this fascinating story, in which one person, rich, gifted and sensitive, can change the lives of a group of people, only known to him by chance, and mould their lives for their own good. But as he leaves them to go on his solitary way, he wonders how much good his ministrations may have done.

What appears in most of Mr. Kitchin’s novels, and not least in this one, is the sense of ecstasy. Let the subject be what it will, the Stock Exchange, the Helford River, the Fandango Restaurant, or the 444 motor bus, which carries Francis so conveniently to Williams Park, there is always round the corner not only romance and excitement but sheer ecstasy, transforming these commonplace scenes and experiences with a sudden halo of light.

Clifford Kitchin cultivated his image as a man of the world, a rather metallic human being with his ear on the telephone

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  • (4/5)
    Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: Francis Norton is an elderly bachelor who enjoys nothing better than spending a warm day outside in one of London’s parks. When one afternoon he innocently overhears the earnest conversation of two young lovers, Edward and Mirrie, whose relationship is complicated by Edward’s unhappy marriage to a drunken wife, Francis decides to interfere in an attempt to help the pair. But despite his good intentions, his matchmaking efforts have unexpected consequences, and he soon finds himself caught up in a complicated triangle involving blackmail, a mysterious death, and courtroom intrigue. Will Francis’s well-meaning manipulations lead to a happy ending for his two young friends, or will his meddling end in tragedy and disaster?Found among C.H.B. Kitchin’s papers after his death, A Short Walk in Williams Park was published posthumously in 1971. As L.P. Hartley writes in his Foreword, this short novel has the same distinction of style as Kitchin’s other acclaimed works and displays many of its author’s finest qualities.My Review>: A very short novel indeed, this coda to a fine and distinguished, if unremunerative, career might have been best left in his papers. It's a charming idea, I suppose, but it doesn't develop into much. One is left wondering at the alacrity with which Mirrie rises to catch Francis's fly, how quickly and completely she trusts this stranger, and why in the event George goes along with all of it.Kitchin's trademark beautiful, precise language is much in evidence; by the end of his career, I suppose he simply couldn't write any other way than beautifully. Lucky us, he's left more novels than just this, and many of those are a bracing, invigorating journey through human nature's many sides. Unless you've read other Kitchin novels, don't pick this one up.