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Five Novels

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  81 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Firbank, Five Novels. Part high-camp comedy of manners and part fairy tale. Contents: The Flower Beneath the Foot; Prancing Nigger; Valmouth; The Artificial Princess; and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 1981 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published January 1st 1950)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Terribly torn here, sitting at my desk and thinking on Ronald Firbank. I can't call him BURIED. For shame, if only because for what I think he represents in regard to fictioning, he is at a minimum UNDERREAD, like everything by Djuna Barnes that is NOT Nightwood. But, let's be a bit Frank about Firbank: ESSENTially he has two volumes of importance, Five Novels and 3 More Novels: Vainglory, Inclinations, Caprice {also there exists The Complete Firbank} plus there's some stories and plays and othe ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Just because I want so much, it's extraordinary how little
I require," says a player in Firbank's fantasia, "Valmouth,"
wherein the bedizened denizens at a UK spa pleasure themselves
with misalliances and infatuations. Capt. Dick Thoroughfare,
heir to Hare-Hatch House, doesn't appear at his wedding - he has a special jolliness w teen sailor Jack Whorwood - and the bride is last seen in pursuit of a butterfly. Meantime, Lady Parvula explains her unconcealed emotions for a shepherd: "I know I should
Eddie Watkins
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk-fiction
If you enjoy cloying whimsy thick as treacle but dainty as a glass ballerina (or a treacly ballerina pirouetting on glass) these books are for you.
Max Nemtsov
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Еще один дивный английский эксцентрик (дождавшийся у меня на полке своего часа прочтения) — из той породы, что размечена такими именами, как Лоренс Стерн, Оскар Уайлд, Уильям Джерхарди, Мервин Пик, а из нынешних, пожалуй, — Дейвид Бриттон, хотя Фёрбэнк, конечно, не так трансгрессивен, пусть для своего времени и был, я допускаю, чрезмерен). Да, в первую очередь — стилисты, у которых порой единственный мессидж сводится к медии.
Пленных при этом Фёрбэнк не берет — изящество у него загоняется в читат
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
This volume was the first I’d read of Ronald Firbank's writings; indeed, I’d not heard of him until a few weeks ago. His writing seems hard to categorize, hard even to characterize, the present volume containing five novellas – The Flower Beneath the Foot, Prancing Nigger, Valmouth, The Artificial Princess, and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli. Adjectives that might be applied to Firbank’s writing include artificial, effete, epicene, flowery, fussy, and, if Susan Sontag’s defini ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ronald Firbank's work is difficult to describe, even after you've read it. In fact, if I described his work in detail, you'd still think I was making it up, as surely nobody would actually write something like that. Abandon all sense of propriety, ye who enter here, though propriety, nicety, and manners are very much at the center of Firbank's material. Is it "gay" fiction? Is it decadent, the way Wilde is decadent? Is it preposterously funny and fey? All of those things. "Oh God, let me be deco ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Five Novels by Ronald Firbanks is period writing from the World War I modernists, experimental writers. In length these are more like long, short stories. They are thematically repetitious. There may be plots but of the five the plot line is barely important in first and last stories. Prancing N*g (cannot use that word even if it is the title), has a plot but so predictable as to be unimportant. Character s mostly begin and end as they are, although Convening the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirel ...more
Frank Hoppe
The entry in the Oxford Companion to English Literature (5th ed.) for Firbank states, "some writers have claimed that he did more to liberate the novel from 19th-cent. concepts of realism than Joyce himself." Wow. How could I resist? I took away a vast admiration for his use of language and happily dipped into various dictionaries and internet searches for terms, phrases, historical places, mythical personages, etc., at least 3 or 4 times a page. It was not an easy read--at least, not for me. I ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: researchers only
Firbank was referred to as a "master of the camp novel"---so I thought "what's not to like. . . .?"

I just didn't get him and found it very tough slogging---only read two of the five novels in this book. I suspect that I didn't "get it" but was not willing to try any harder than I did.

W.H. Auden was quoted as saying that "A person who dislikes Ronald Firbank may possess some admirable quality, but I do not ever wish to see him again." Conversely, I don't ever wish to encounter Firbank's writing a
Rambling Reader
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Sigh... I wanted to like this but I didn't... a very dated and effete authoress. As much as I love everything fey and camp, this fell like a bag of bricks. OH well. But it is an interesting historical relic.
Jonathan Hutchins
Aug 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
I managed one and a half of these stories before giving up. I don't 'get' him either; I could appreciate a few flashes of lambent brilliance but the extreme precious surrealistic style I found too much like hard work
R.K. Cowles
3 1/2 stars
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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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