"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Monday, 4 April 2011

Elizabeth Bowen: The Difference a Word Makes

The sense you get with a lot of currently hyped British fiction that the writers are straining too hard, that the writing has been overcooked, strikes you more forcefully when you confront the opposite: writing that seems perfectly in control of itself. Elizabeth Bowen's Friends and Relations (1932) opens with a wedding that is realised with extraordinary economy of means.  At one point the sister of the bride, Janet Studdart, looks into the marquee on a couple who have been more or less abandoned, without chairs, without anyone speaking to them, alone in the empty tent.  "'It's a pity,' she added, looking dispassionately round the marquee, 'you can't sit down.'"  That single word "dispassionately" animates the cliché: "speaks volumes".

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