I devoted the day yesterday to reading the first book I'v'e chosen for the Outmoded Authors Challenge, A God and His Gifts by Ivy Compton-Burnett. As you know I'm starting out behind the rest so this is my September book.
Ivy Compton-Burnett was born in 1884 and her novels, even those written as late as A God and His Gifts, which was published in 1963, are Edwardian. She is the master of unconscious self revelation, one critic said, and has no parallel and no equal said another. Her novels are almost entirely in dialogue.
I mean it when I say that. There are not more than half a dozen paragraphs in this book that do not contain dialogue. The narrator says almost nothing except to move people into, out of, and across the drawing rooms in which all the "action" takes place. There is almost no physical action - it is all verbal. Reading her is like reading Restoration Comedy. Her work is as finely tuned and as scalpel sharp as the best of the 18th century.
The god of this book is Hereward Egerton (make what you will of his name), a man who is what we would now call a sociopath. The world's rules were not made for him. He himself and his work are the only things that matter to him. He is unconstrained by sexual mores, even the most basic - not just those in play during the Edwardian period but even those we respect today, few as they are.
Ivy Compton-Burnett is not ourmoded. She is simply out of fashion at the moment. But I predict a Compton-Burnett Renaissance soon. I would rate this book about the cream of disfunctional families six on a scale of one to five. There is almost nothing better. Jane Austen's ascerbic wit is timid in comparison.