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Three More Novels: Vainglory, Inclinations, Caprice

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  44 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
So cleverly and wittily are the stories told that we sense we belong in the charmed café society of post-1918 Britain, and life seems, as Ernest Jones says in his critical introduction, "a Nirvana in which homosexuals are the ultimate chic and in which... almost everyone turns out to be at least bi-sexual." In Vainglory, Mrs. Shamefoot, who "almost compels a tear," embrace ...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published April 17th 1986 by New Directions (first published 1915)
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Edward
Chronology
Introduction
Further Reading
A Note on the Texts


--Vainglory
--Inclinations
--Caprice

Appendix 1: Variants in the 1915 Edition of 'Vainglory'
Appendix 2: Part II, Chapter IV, of the 1916 Edition of 'Inclinations'
Appendix 3: 'Ronald Firbank' (1936) by E. M. Forster
Paul
Jul 23, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing
Reading Ronald Firbank, a good writer once told me, was like opening up a jewel box. Gazing over it's sundry contents - which, if I am to elaborate- would be of uncommon assortment and wonder! Precious stones of clashing colours, possibly on christian relics inset, tiny golden Byzantine feet charms, Ancient Greek (Sappho's maid's broach?) bits, Renaissance Venetian death-lace, a tarnish cow-bell, etc., etc., etc! The Firbank wavelength is about the pleasure and the that exact moment of reading - ...more
Emily
Aug 03, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
Uncommon writer - builds plot and characters through conversation. Offers a spectacularly vivid picture of the English upper class: their mannerisms, fripperies and eccentricities. And a hero and model for the intellectual gay man both then and now (nb Stephen Fry's Moab is My Washpot) and influenced Waugh and Forster amongst others. Modernist, pre-Woolf and Joyce. I enjoyed these stories the most of all his novels as they were easy to read and relatively easy to follow. And funny, in a savage, ...more
Ana B
Apr 01, 2016 Ana B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My future self.
What amount of stars do I have to give it in order to convey that while I didn't exactly like it, I also definitely didn't Not like it?

The thing about Firbank is that I don't understand what the thing about Firbank is. I wanted to like him; in fact I wanted to Love him. I wanted to love him because everything I've read about the man himself made me wish I'd been alive back then to have a chat with him, maybe lift his spirits a bit in the process, I wanted to love him because he was at least to
...more
Micha
Another book bought for me by my supervisor, though it had been previously recommended to me by certain extracted quotes that made it seem an appealing read, as well as by mentions of it in The Swimming-Pool Library. But I really struggled with the writing. I feel like I only half-heard anything and kept losing my attentiveness, which is what all the characters are doing to each other when anyone talks but which is also something I don't really go in for when I'm reading. And the back says that ...more
Frenchy
Oct 27, 2013 Frenchy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started badly for me in mid-conversation between two characters, taking quite a few paragraphs to unfold and make sense of what is going on in the story (actually very little). This is one of my least-favorite literary devices, but what really didn't work for me as a reader is a lack of cultural and historical context.
American English is my second language and I found myself at sea trying to figure out many little bits and pieces which I'm sure are supposed to be funny but made no sense what
...more
Seth Holler
[Reading in THE COMPLETE RONALD FIRBANK, Duckworth 1961]

So many characters, and at least to a 21c American, so much obscurity.

If we must find a plot, it is Mrs Shamefoot's wrangling for a commemorative stained glass window in the Anglican cathedral at Ashringford.

According to Anthony Powell's Introduction, "Mr Harvester" is Firbank himself. See pp 82, 89, 199

A few representative lines:
"Somehow, some people are so utterly of this world that one cannot conceive of them being grafted into any othe
...more
Kay
Aug 03, 2007 Kay rated it liked it
What to make of Ronald Firbank? I still don't know. Perhaps that's his charm. Be prepared for an onslaught of almost (but not quite) purple prose and improbable flights of fancy. There's no one else like him.
Gregg
Aug 06, 2007 Gregg rated it really liked it
Purple and lavendar are to mild of words to describe Firbank, yet it's hard not to appreciate the charms of this sometimes too precious author.
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British novelist Ronald Firbank was born in London, the son of society lady Harriet Jane Garrett and MP Sir Thomas Firbank. He went to Uppingham School, and then on to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He converted to Catholicism in 1907. In 1909 he left Cambridge, without completing a degree.
Living off his inheritance he travelled around Spain, Italy, the Middle East, and North Africa. Ronald Firbank died
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“Mentally, perhaps she was already three parts glass. So intense was her desire to set up a commemorative window to herself that, when it was erected, she believed she must leave behind in it, for ever, a little ghost. And should this be so, then what joy to be pierced each morning with light; her body flooded through and through by the sun, or in the evening to glow with a harvest of dark colours, deepening into untold sadness with the night....
What ecstasy! It was the Egyptian sighing for his pyramid, of course.”
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“Although there were moments even still in the grey glint of morning when the room had the agitated, stricken appearance of a person who had changed his creed a thousand times, sighed, stretched himself, turned a complete somersault, sat up, smiled, lay down, turned up his toes and died of doubts. But this aspect was reserved exclusively for the housemaids and the translucent threads of dawn.” 2 likes
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