“The exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting…is denied to me.”

February 26, 2014 @ 7:59 pm | Filed under:


These posts are going to get very short all of a sudden because Rose and Beanie have departed for a week with my parents. I’ll miss our daily Poetry 180 readings. To make up for it, I made sure to catch today’s Writer’s Almanac entry. “Yard Sale” by George Bilgere. And it seems it’s Christopher Marlowe’s birthday! He was only 29 when he died, can you believe it?

Early morning: Howards End.

After lunch: Howards End Is on the Landing. Standout bits: This quote from Sir Walter Scott:

Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me.

Oh how I love to hear writers talking about what other writers can pull off that they themselves can’t.

And just a note to myself to look up Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower. Hill’s description certainly sells it. Also loved this line Hill quotes from a letter Fitzgerald wrote her, on the delights of being a grandmother:

It is such a joy to have someone who wishes to sit with you on a sofa and listen to a watch tick.

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7 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. jep says:

    I am new here, but have so enjoyed your writing. I also read Howard’s End Is On the Landing and think now I should buy the book. Thanks for the information on the App, Prizmo.

  2. selvi says:

    The Blue Flower is my absolute favorite novel. It is so evocative. Bon appetit!

  3. selvi says:

    And now I’m even more eager to read Howards End on the Landing, which is ready for pickup at the library! Might have to go today.

  4. Melissa Wiley says:

    Selvi, all right, you tipped the balance and I’ve just put The Blue Flower on hold. 🙂

    JEP, glad to have you here!

  5. selvi says:

    Oooo As if I weren’t already glued to your reading notes.

  6. selvi says:

    I’m reading Howard’s End is on the Landing, and enjoying it. I don’t have the same soft spot for old crotchets, though, and I was starting to distance myself from Hill. You know, like when she said something about hearing Kingsley Amis say he loved is son in a most convincing way, I was wondering if it was true or if she was just saying that. How convincingly did he say it? But then I got to her chapter about Penelope Fitzgerald, and reading it I felt she was a sister in heart. And it made me wonder about that feeling, because it seems so real when you feel it. I guess that you can know important things about someone from their writing, and the fact that they may have other sides to who they are doesn’t make those important things less real.