The Old Wives' Tale

The Old Wives Tale Every stout ageing woman is not grotesque far from it but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her fo

  • Title: The Old Wives' Tale
  • Author: Arnold Bennett John Wain
  • ISBN: 9780140182552
  • Page: 188
  • Format: Paperback
  • Every stout, ageing woman is not grotesque far from it but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her form and her movements and in her mind And the fact that the change from the young girl to the stout ageing woman is made up of an infinite number of infinitesimal chan Every stout, ageing woman is not grotesque far from it but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her form and her movements and in her mind And the fact that the change from the young girl to the stout ageing woman is made up of an infinite number of infinitesimal changes, each unperceived by her, only intensifies the pathos It was at the instant of this observation that I was visited by the idea of writing the book which ultimately became The Old Wives Tale So writes Arnold Bennett in the preface to his masterpiece of realistic fiction, a book that follows the lives of two sisters, Constance and Sophia, from simple days in mid Victorian England through the chaos and tumult of the modern age Along the way, a novel is built, detail by rich detail, that rivals the great realistic works of Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Maupassant.Critical commentary on classic books is readily available from academics and career critics But what do the greats have to say about the greats In addition to the new Introductions we ve commissioned from today s top writers and thinkers, we will provide a full Commentary section, excerpting book reviews and other critical essays from major authors E M Forster on Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf on Forster, etc We ve edited these pieces down to the most salient and provocative passages, or we re running short pieces at full length.

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    One thought on “The Old Wives' Tale”

    1. A simple concept of parallels and contrasts in the lives of sisters, carefully told with gentle irony. It starts in 1864 when Constance and Sophia are 16 and 15 respectively and follows them to the end of their lives. Book 1 covers their teenage years together above and in a draper’s shop in a small town in the Staffordshire Potteries (central England). Book 2 is in the same location, but focuses on Constance. Book 3 is set in Paris during great political upheaval and war, and is about Sophia. [...]

    2. I recall intensely that The Old Wives' Tale had me weeping silently into my mug of tea on more than one occasion as I followed raptly the ordinary tedious lives of two more than a little irritating women from youth to addled toothlessness, whence are we all doomed, although, one hopes, these days, with more humane dentistry and superior bridgework. Ah, humanity! Is it ever thus? Yes, thus it was, thus it is, and thus is to be. Here is a symphony of domesticity, panopticon of disappointment, spou [...]

    3. BLURB"Every stout, ageing woman is not grotesque -- far from it! -- but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her form and her movements and in her mind. And the fact that the change from the young girl to the stout ageing woman is made up of an infinite number of infinitesimal changes, each unperceived by her, only intensifies the pathos. It was at (the) instant (of this observation) that I was visi [...]

    4. A testament to the power and influence of is the discovery of this gem which otherwise would have escaped my notice.Bennett grabbed me with the second sentence of his preface and never let go for a moment. In many ways this 5 page preface is more compelling than the actual novel. Here he relates an anecdote of sitting in a favorite cafe when an old woman comes in talking to herself and dropping her parcels. She is the subject of immediate ridicule by the two waitresses, one old enough to know b [...]

    5. He saw a fat, old, ridiculous, shapeless woman in a restaurant. Then he imagined her once as a vivacious young girl, perhaps pretty when she was a young woman, had some love affairs, married, brought forth children, and now she's like that, most likely alone and forgotten. For a long while he thought of writing a story about an old woman like her. When he finally got himself into writing it, he thought it would be more challenging to write about two of them, so Arnold Bennett made them sisters-- [...]

    6. Arnold Bennett is one of the great under-read authors ever. His prose is shining-carved out of marble each word beautiful resonating off the surrounding ones. But really-his craft is so pure and every word counts. Of course, it's good his writing is so unsentimental because it keeps his stories from being unbearable sad (instead of just barely bearably painful). This is the book I would recommend people begin with if they don't know Bennett; I found it the most accessible with even a little humo [...]

    7. 2 sisters, 2 separate lives : "I have been through too much, I cannot stand it." Yes, we're only concerned with our paltry selves, so why do some whine, Why did this novel not mention this or that war or crisis. Why? Cos outside events nevermatter . In his preface Bennett notes that ordinary people are never aware of history's dramatic events. And talented Cyril, the child of one sis : so cute, so spoiled. At 33, his "habits were industrious as ever. He seldom spoke of his plans and never of his [...]

    8. I consider Arnold Bennett to be the most underrated of all English novelists, and The Old Wives’ Tale to be one of the great undiscovered (or ‘underdiscovered’) masterpieces of twentieth century literature. Bennett was despised by the Bloomsbury group, particularly Virginia Woolf, who thought him conservative and vulgar; his popularity made him a figure of envy and ridicule amongst the Modernists. Obviously he’s got much more in common with Trollope, Thackeray and Dickens than he does wi [...]

    9. The story of two sisters moving through life to their twilight years. Each faces life's tribulations, and works her way through it, but it is in the end, where they reflect back, that the brilliance of this book comes out. What is life, what contributions and differences do we make, and can we adapt, or should we? These questions permeate the prose of Bennett. One of the better books I have ever read. Possibly, being in my 60's it really speaks to me.

    10. I LOVED THIS BOOK! First published in 1908, it read like a modern-day novel - not tedious and wordy like many Victorian novels. The author painted such vivid characters, scenery and narrative that it was very easy to get swept up in the storyline. Covering a span of 50 years the story is about two sisters, Constance and Sophia Baines, following their lives from youth into old age. The book is broken down into four "books": Book 1 is about the teen-aged girls and their mother; Book 2 is a chronic [...]

    11. Finished: 07 November 2017Title: The Old Wives TalesGenre: fictionScore: A++Review: This was THE best novel on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels list I’ve read so far. It is strange how fate has changed the lives of the sisters Sophia and Constance. Sophia’s charm and beauty was dazzling…but she was mischievous, proud. She had sinned in the eyes of the Victorians. She fled to Paris. Constance’s had remained, her father had wanted, quiet and the model of consideration. She lived at St [...]

    12. First published in 1908, this is considered one of Bennett's finest works. His breathtaking detail and description is something to behold.The story begins around 1840 in the Stafforshire pottery town of Burslem, where young sisters Constance and Sophia Baines work in their parents' draper's shop. They are initially close but contrastingly different girls, Sophie the younger considered incorrigible by the more proper Constance. As they grow up the girls drift, mentally and geographically, apart. [...]

    13. THE OLD WIVES’ TALE. (1908). Arnold Bemmett. ****. I have a pile of books “to be read” that comprise my “guilt” pile. They are usually from the group known as classics, and have small print, and are exceedingly long. I put off reading any of them until my guilt level exceeds my capability of enduring it. That’s how I picked up this novel by Bennett. I’ve known for years that this was considered his best work, and had even broken myself into his style by reading one of shorter works [...]

    14. H.G. Wells may think this book is a masterpiece, but I myself don't see the allure. The Old Wives' Tale tells the story of two sisters, only one year apart, and their journey from lively young girls into unhappy old women. One sister, Sophia, runs away with a handsome man only to be trapped in a loveless marriage until her husband deserts her a few years later. Intelligent and resourceful, she manages to make money running a hotel until her 50's, never truly happy but at least feeling like she h [...]

    15. Constance and Sophia are two sisters born into the narrow but secure world of their parents' drapery business in the Potteries. The Old Wives' Tale is the story of their lives from girlhood to old age and it is a remarkable masterpiece.The life experiences of the two are vastly different, yet in essence they end up living the same life. As products of a hard-working, respectable trading class, their values are with them for life. Bennett puts the women centre stage, and male characters are perip [...]

    16. An astonishing, perfect piece of work. I’ve occasionally recognised, over the years, the not-so deep fact that the way one perceives the quality of a book can in fact depend on one’s own mood at the time. I remember once reading Bleak House as part of my student studies and I read it in 100 page chunks: well, it remains one of my all-time favourite books, a complete masterpiece; but pages 301-400 were quite poor…Maybe I happened to be in the right, receptive sort of mood here too. Who care [...]

    17. The start of this is very slow with much description. I wondered if I'd started another which would be a slog. Not a bit of it, I'm happy to report. Primarily characterization with some small plot to go with it, it is no wonder this is on both Bloom's Western Canon and Boxall's 1001 Books - and maybe other lists, too.Bennett gives us the inspiration for his story in a preface to the edition I read, wherein he states that he frequented a certain restaurant in Paris. an old woman came into the re [...]

    18. I have finally finished this thing. So relieved. I really need to quit subjecting myself to the nauseum that is Victorian novels. Absolutely nothing happens in this book with the exception of the sections dealing with the youngest Baines daughter, Sophia.Sophia is the only one in the family that actually lived. She left the tiny town of Bursley for, in my opinion, stupid reasons, but she left. And she lived a life worthy of talking about. Constance, the elder sister, sat around, got fat and comp [...]

    19. What did I like about this book? It wasn't really exciting, or novel, nor were the characters that compelling - and yet, it was thoroughly good. The preface helped me to like it, I admit. Bennett writes about seeing two older women in a restaurant and feeling curious about what made them so different and yet brought them to the same place - and wanting for a long time to explore that idea in his writing. So this novel is really focused on the idea that small everyday choices build upon each othe [...]

    20. With one exception, all of Arnold Bennett's fiction was published in the couple of decades following the death of Queen Victoria, yet in tone it is much more Victorian than Edwardian (certainly none of your post-Eliot modernism can be detected at all). In his stated attempt to emulate Flaubert, Zola and other French realists, he has a few startling passages (for example, an attempt to represent the pains of giving birth) that one is hard put to imagine in Elizabeth Gaskell or even the Brontes.Fo [...]

    21. A momentary self-congrats: with this novel, I finished the Modern Library top 100.Only took me about 5 years, but I did it.This novel was a worthy finale being quite a tome, 620 pages, and since writtenin the early 1900s, was worried it might be difficult.However it was a pleasant read, the story of the Baines family, primarilyConstance and Sophia from their teens through old age and death. Startingaround 1860, you get a look at the working class districts of England,a view of middle class life [...]

    22. I enjoyed this immensly! The story tells the tale of Constance and Sophia Baines' lives from girlhood to death at the end of the 19th century. They were, perhaps, from today's point of view, not very exceptional lives - especially Constance's - but it is so well written and Bennett has such a delightful way of describing everything that you don't really notice this! His main characters have great depth, and the narratve is wonderfully tongue in cheek. My enjoyment was no doubt increased by the f [...]

    23. The Old Wives' Tale Arnold Bennett This book is a masterpiece of the art of story telling. Its a simple linear narrative but with amazing character study. How well Mr Bennett understood human nature! The book is interesting, amusing, sad and very touching.s excellent and highly recommended.

    24. The Old Wives' Tale is a superb story still as readable and enjoyable as ever. After having read this for my English Lit. A level many years ago and 2nd reading did not disappoint. Telling the story of the Baines sisters the quiet, shy, retiring Constance and defiant, romantic Sophia over the course of nearly half a century. This book will grab you and your will always remember the story of the defiant Sophia.

    25. I enjoyed this examination of two women's lives from the beginning (young and beautiful) to the end (death in old age). In a couple spots it dragged a little but on the whole, kept me interested and engaged. I enjoyed following these two sisters and their unfolding lives, especially as they made very different choices early on. I found this story poignant and bittersweet.

    26. A wonderful book. No summary can do it justice -- on the surface it is so utterly mundane, and yet Bennett packs entire lives into a few pages, sketches characters deftly and makes it all so entirely believable. Storytelling does not get any more polished than this.

    27. I chose this book as my July read for a book published in the first decade of the 20th century. I started it a few days early and loved it so much continued to read, finishing it today.I loved this book so much I feel like picking it up and reading it all over again. What more can be said?One of the best description in fiction of the lives of 2 sisters. Even though this story is set in Victorian and Edwardian times, these women could be women of today. Even though this was written by a man, I fo [...]

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