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Beschreibung des Verlags
A collection of Penelope Fitzgerald’s short stories.
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most highly-regarded writers on the English literary scene. Apart from Iris Murdoch, no other writer has been shortlisted so many times for the Booker. Her last novel, ‘The Blue Flower’, was the book of its year, garnering extraordinary acclaim in Britain, America and Europe.
This superb collection of stories, originally published in anthologies and newspapers, shows Penelope Fitzgerald at her very best. From the tale of a young boy in 17-century England who loses a precious keepsake and finds it frozen in a puddle of ice, to that of a group of buffoonish amateur Victorian painters on a trip to Brittany, these stories are characteristically wide ranging, enigmatic and very funny. They are each miniature studies of the endless absurdity of human behaviour.
‘Of all the novelists in English in the last quarter-century, she has the most inarguable claim on greatness. This is a small book, probably not above 25,000 words, but a remarkably rich one. It sets the seal on a career we, as readers, can only count ourselves lucky to have lived through.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator
‘So readable, so sharply tender, at the top of her form.’ Adam Mars-Jones, Observer
‘As succinct, droll and individual as Fitzgerald has, over the years, given us every right to expect.’ Sunday Times
‘Luminous, dark, unflinching.’ Hermione Lee, TLS
‘Eight masterpieces, polished and perfect, and with such mesmerising characters that each story is equal to any novel.’ Polly Samson, Independent ‘Books of the Year’
About the author
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the ‘Book of the Year’. It won America’s National Book Critics’ Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.
When a brilliant writer like Fitzgerald births her first work at age 60, her death at age 83 earlier this year seems sadly premature. This posthumous volume of eight short stories, none of them previously published here, is thus a signal event. Strange, whimsical, sometimes gothic or bizarre, these tales demonstrate Fitzgerald's cool and civilized wit and the merciless eye she casts on worldly pretensions. Many of the protagonists are eccentric, and in every story, something is askew: an individual is at odds with the everyday world. With settings ranging from England, Scotland and France to New Zealand and old Istanbul, and in historical period from the mid-19th century to the present day, each ends with a surprising twist. A story about the perseverance of rigid class values, "The Prescription," is a cautionary tale about a man of entrenched tradition who despises the outstanding individual achievement of someone of a "lower order." In several other tales, however, a self-satisfied character is undone by someone who appears powerless but manages to triumph. The title story, in which Fitzgerald's spare description blossoms in the mind's eye to create vivid scenes capturing the social milieu of 1852 Hobart, Tasmania, deals with a minister's virgin daughter, an escaped convict and an inscrutable servant who turns the tables. In most stories, the respectable social classesDupper and middleDare cold, "just" and supercilious. The poor are clever, resourceful and doomed to suffer. Crisp, with the economical suggestiveness of poetry, these stories will be treasured by Fitzgerald's readersDwho will, however, mourn the lack of information about their chronology.