Why has A Passage To India survived better than Peking Picnic?
Also in today's blog
Should blogs be long or short?
A comment by Adrian Weston sent me off to St Peter Port's public library online catalogue to check the presence of books by E M Forster and Ann Bridge.
In case you didn't read Adrian's [see photo] comment, it was –
"… Peking Picnic is probably a more successful novel than A Passage to India, because it has slightly less ambition (I don't mean that negatively). A Passage to India is a deeply flawed book, that fails/falls on several key points - but is also an enduring one. The points of similarity are quite simple - both Forster and Ann Bridge cast a central western woman in a role of quiet visionary, exemplifying the Forsterian mantra of 'only connect'. I think it is interesting in that I would hazard (and I have not read either book inside of a decade so I might be misremembering) that both have broadly humanist agendas. Also thinking back, I suspect I'd more readily re-read Bridge now than Forster...."
My public library may not be typical, though I suspect that it is, in having one copy of Peking Picnic and 26 entries for Forster, including videos.
At an online page of books recommended to anyone going to China, I read
"The best single-volume introduction to the people of China and their world is Jasper Becker's The Chinese (John Murray, 2000). Longtime resident of Beijing and former Beijing bureau chief for the South China Morning Post, Becker delivers an immensely readable account of how the Chinese got to be who they are today; their pre-occupations, thoughts, and fears; and the ludicrous posturings of their leaders."
Further down the page was – "Ann Bridge, the wife of a British diplomat in Beijing, wrote novels of life in the capital's Legation Quarter in the 1930s (cocktail parties, horse racing, problems with servants, love affairs -- spicy stuff in its day, and best-selling, if now largely forgotten).
This is an unfairly dismissive summary of Peking Picnic which studies the human condition of many nationalities, including the Chinese, in far greater depth than the reviewer suggests.
What infuriates me is that no biography of Bridge has been published. One was written some years ago but is now in limbo, partly, I conclude, because the writer's agent had suffered a personal tragedy at the time it was offered to him. The book did need first class editing by someone familiar with Bridge's novels and her own excellent Facts and Fictions.
Should blogs be long or short?
Some time ago a comment suggested my blogs were too long. I've been thinking that over and have realised that, with the exception of Grumpy Old Bookman [see link in sidebar] most of the blogs I read on a daily basis are short-ish.
In future I'm going to try to stick to a top limit of 500 words which is 2,500 words a week, quite a large output with much else to do in my writing life. [Today's blog is 542 words]
Tomorrow's blog will be mainly about the diaries of an internationally famous man I bought in hardback 28 years and have been re-reading this month with possibly more interest and enjoyment than when they first came out.