The Romantic Comedians by Ellen Glasgow

bookshelves: published-1926, women, north-americas, under-20, spring-2013, winter-20142015

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Judy Bainbridge
Read from February 07, 2013 to December 13, 2014
Description: Long before Deborah Tannen began exploring linguistic differences between male and female communication styles, Ellen Glasgow depicted the problem in The Romantic Comedians. Playing on ideas about gender and power through sexual alignments, the novel offers rare feminist insight into relations between the sexes in southern society during the twenties. It is one of the few American comedies of manners written by a woman. In The Romantic Comedians Glasgow takes the familiar story of the cuckold and raises it to a new level. Her sixty-five-year-old male protagonist, the recently widowed Judge Gamaliel Honeywell, falls in love with and marries an impulsive twenty-three-year-old woman, emblem of the 1920s. As the symbol of patriarchy, the Judge espouses all of the chivalrous myths about women, insisting that older women are not interested in love, that a man is only as old as his instincts, and that some young women prefer old lovers to young ones. His sheltered mind allows these delusions about women as it allows him to delude himself.

Afterword by Dorothy M Scura

Preface: This tragicomedy of a happiness-hunter was written, as an experiment, for my own entertainment. E.G.

Opening: For thirty-six years Judge Gamaliel Bland Honeywell had endured the double-edged bliss of a perfect marriage; but it seemed to him, on this sparkling Easter Sunday, that he had lived those years with a stranger.

So long since I read the first fifty odd pages that this is now a complete reboot from page 1.

Honeywell is at heart, of Victorian mind and principles; some of his ideas on ladies and life will make many a modern woman want to shake a stick at him. Glasgow’s brand of stick shaking is more nuanced, and rendered delightful with wry observations, so they become subtle satiric prods.

Page 50: ‘”A flower shop? Of course you shall have it. You should have anything that is in my power to give you.”

Verdict: how is it that the woman who can write about raw issues and believable human spontaneous direction as on show in ‘Barren Ground’ feels the need to froth forward on such social minutiae as is on show here in ‘The Romantic Comedians’? It seems that women’s issues was very much her specific interest.

Froth this is but the language is delectable.

4* Barren Ground
3* The Sheltered Life
3* The Romantic Comedians

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