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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

G. & S. is 'dead'

Friday, March 19th., Cadogan Square, London.

"The Gondoliers" at Prince's last night. I thought that this was better than it proved to be. There are at least half a dozen magnificent tunes in it, and beyond those - nothing. Immense longueurs in the action, especially towards the end of each act, and the 'climaxic' explanation on the other hand is much too hurried. The fun is merely childish. Also it is 'healthy' fun. The one joke of the gondolier about taking off his cap or anything else in reason 'seemed quite shocking'. It was all far too respectable. The packed audience was also stodgy and ugly. In fact you wondered where the people came from - so dull were they. However, the applause was much less than it used to be. The whole affair dull save for the magnif. tunes. I don't want to see any more G. & S. Fundamentally the thing is dead.

Finished re-reading "The Pretty Lady" yesterday. It is good, I think, but not as good as it could have been. I felt it would have benefited from a slower pace, more development of character, and a good dash of extra realism, for example in the description of Christine's rooms, her relationship with the maid Marthe, and the conduct of her 'profession'. Also the ending is unsatisfactory. Francis Hackett in the New Republic, described the ending as 'inept' and he may be right. An anonymous reviewer in the Evening Sentinel wrote: "written with ... a higher purpose and a larger vision, the novel might have become distinguished." he may be right as well. But would it have sold so many copies? I best liked the conclusion of Wallace's review in the Manchester Guardian: "In its breathlessly clever use of words the book is perhaps the most brilliant Mr. Bennett has given us, but after this frenzied excursion into life high and gay, it would be just splendidly restful to be back again in the Five Towns".

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