Tuesday 4 July 2017

Don't let John Cowper Powys slide into literary oblivion!

I recently got an e-mail from a chap who has this laudable goal:

JC Powys (1872-1963) was a really interesting and important writer who wrote some passages that have stuck with me ever since reading - I have read about a dozen of his books, and another dozen biographies, his letters and critical studies. 

As a writer Powys is extremely strange and about as sprawling as anybody - so he is not to all, or most, tastes - howver, he attracted some significant and impressive readers over the decades (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cowper_Powys#Reputation) : a cult writer, in other words. 

Where to begin? Probably the novel Wolf Solent or his Autobiography which is without doubt one of the best of autobiographies. The enormous A Glastonbury Romance has its moments, but I have only dipped into it. As a biography Old Earth Man by HP Collins was good enough to make me re-read it. 

I would say that Powys was the most serious and committed of neo-pagans - he took that attempted religious revival just about as far as it can be taken - showing what it can do, and its limitations.


Jim said...

Hello Bruce. I am a long-time J.C. Powys fan and just found this (while doing some research about Glenn Gould, who was also a J.C.P. fan). Thank you so much for posting this. I heartily agree...he's been neglected for too long. Thankfully, thanks to Overlook Press and some others, his books (at least some of them) remain in print. Are you a member of the Powys Society?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jim - You're welcome. No, I'm not in the JCP society - I'm not much of a 'joiner'.

Jim said...

Fair enough, Bruce. I'm sure they'd love to have you if you ever change your mind. Thanks again for the post.