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Modeling and Analysis of Communicating Systems jStartling in retrospectNoman is also used by Powys to showust how fickle the male mind is in its feelingsAt than one point he the male mind is in its feelingsAt than one point he attracted and unattracted to several women as men are in succession Wizzie s flow of thought shows a similar flowThis works against convention as well so that the overall effect is to raise up the personhood against conventional representation in what is really an artistic experimentI am no expert on Powys but there is a short if unenlightening Prefatory Note to the novel in this edition that seems to confirm that Powys was working out his feelings about formidable women The women in this novel are both formidable and ordinary above all they are not caricaturesThe triumph of Powys is to imbue an air of eroticism around these women without any obvious sexual acts although Powys is relatively open about sexuality compared to most of his contemporariesAs a male I could sense Powys own erotic responses to these formidable women who may be types themselves but at a far sophisticated level than the males The variation of erotic response is definitely not conventional and it is certainly skilfully made as momentary for #The Reader As It #reader as it for the protagonists From this perspective this is a novel about transitory responses and male hysteria and a powerful step forward in male literature s ability to come to terms with strong women In that sense it is a small but important step towards the modern age one in which conventional sexual stereotyping can be replaced with a better understanding of actual sexual difference An historical novelist a nameless bastard who none the less has dubbed himself Dud No Man returns to the Dorchester of his youth after a long absence In an unlikely yet striking scene straight out of Thomas Hardy he buys a wild young orphan with a lurin figure named Wizzie Ravelstein from an old and disreputable circus coupleAt the same time No Man becomes familiar with two families who share and interconnecting cottage not far from Maiden Castle called The Gylmes Dud s unusual choice of surname has nothing to do with Odysseus yet the text is awash with classical and Celtic allusions the latter largely inspired by the figure of Enoch Uryen uirm a mystical Welsh antiuary who has a secret to tell a spiritual struggle between his dead wife Mona s eidolon and Wizzie his Stone age captive he is the kind of writer that can turn an everyday object like a bed post into an object of Faustian desire to penetrate and enjoy even in forbidden directions the huge mystery of the Cosmos Cowper Powys is a wonderful writer but also a somewhat whimsical one that won t be for everyone He constantly refers to his protagonist as our friend likes to place inverted commas around all manor of concepts and is perhaps too fond of italics and exclamation marksBut I love him Like the Welsh wizards he is so obsessed with he is capable of conjuring things up out of thin air emotions and impressions so vivid and extraordinary that you can only marveljust notes full review to follow I am a John Cowper Powys fan having read three of his other novels Wolf Solent Glastonbury Romance Weymouth Sands He s certainly hard going in places and an acuired taste But there is something in his writing that is deeply compelling you might say the vision of an authentic genius Maiden Castle is not as great as the other three Wessex novels Some of it seems absurd wooden frankly weird I wonder if JCP was in fact in some respects literally insane There is an ongoing theme of fetishism running through It wanders around seems to be going nowhere I had to stop reading halfway through take a break and read something else But then you get these sudden passages of extraordinary almost luminous perception and beauty An intensity of vision that is almost other worldly This book in the end comes together beautifully and leaves you with the sense that you ve come through something massive and unexpectedly profound Maiden Castle has many faults But ultimately It S An Extraordinary s an extraordinary JCP may be an acuired taste but it s one you never forget My least favourite of his This may be me or it may be him I can t tell It ust did not work did not flow properly And there was far far too much of the most frustrating JCP tic for me his gender essentialism Fundamentally I would rather be re reading the other three of this uartet Lovie had divined the fact after one glance at that majestic nebulous sickly looking face bending down to pick up that bit of paper that here was someone who treated existence exactly as she did that is to say who regarded what you were pretending as the only real reality in your lifeThe Faustian all life is a symbol Dud No Man is an infant without his stick an old man within his selfish probing tentacles Medusa groping Wizzie s lurin figure all things to do with his eyes The first thing he sees when he meets the world baby is the life flashing before your eyes death bed and reborn counting mine toys Most everyone I meet here has that look of the couple that stays together They aren t in love but it s colder out there If anyone checks to see if your life is still there well there it is At least I have I m a couple doing. E together unfold in counterpoint to the romantic and familial relationships that sizzle and simmer in the village of Dorchester Yet even as the characters in Maiden Castle struggle with the perplexities of love desire and faith readjusting their sights and affections it is the looming fortress of Maiden Castle that exerts the otherworldly force that irrevocably determines the course of their lives.

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Bit overwritten and a bit overcosmic as usual but the flashes of psychological acuity are abundant Powys is a sort as usual but the flashes of psychological acuity are abundant Powys is a sort cult figure whose books are uite long and depend on a lot of Celtic esotericaMaiden Castle s central character is a somewhat misanthropic writer whose eccentric personal habits and inability to comprehend women in other than oddly idealized form seems to me fit into some tradition of anti heroes Confederacy of Dunces Ignatius Reilly and Anthony Burgess Enderby come to mind but there are probably closer examplesThe narrative also revolves around a kind of very specifically Welsh magical mysticism that pops up in #All Sorts Of Books Worth #sorts of books worth including Madeleine L Engle s A Swiftly Tilting Planet and John Wain s A Winter In the Hills which I hastily summarized in this blog post It s uite SIMILAR FROM MEMORY TO A GLASTONBURY ROMANCE IN THAT from memory to A Glastonbury Romance in that TorMaiden Castle at least half alive with attached myth history and religion overshadow the plot which is otherwise about people s sexual and psychological lives and with a railroad of modernity cutting through I chose this as my next Powys with the idea Wizzie was an old circus clown No she s a young girl acrobat and the novel is heavily about the two sexes Which tires me in Powys since I don t believe what he believes He sees the sexes as infinitely different I mean down to cell material Women are always wiser and better I don t know how he knows John Cowper Powys can be the most infuriating of writers able to combine the most exuisitely atmospheric writing with moments of obscurantism that one knows is deliberate and may be unnecessary Nevertheless this book shows us his genius Ostensibly the tale of a group of Dorchester folk over a year of their lives the personalities are types obviously so in the male Cast of CharactersYet they are also real persons certainly the women in the detail of their reactions to each other and events Theatrical and stage managed scenes compete with scenes of the most vivid realism The time is indeterminate but contemporary repeatedly a main scene of the action is referred to as having been pulled down The political debates could only have happened within a decade or so of the writing The homage to Hardy is obvious Powys likes to make things explicit sticking his symbolic representations in front of our eyes yet he suggests depths of meaning that may or may not be thereThe hero of the novel is an impotent early middle aged writer with a limited emotional range an artistic achievement in representation by Powys who is called in that arring way of Powys Dud Noman This evidently symbolic name is then attached to a character that is to be described in very realistic terms An interplay between realism and symbolism is essential to the Powys projectThe first section is made up of a detailed almost Proustian account of Mr Noman s rising with every detail of his room superbly described in a way that grabs our attention from the startThis is an attention that is sustained all the way through to his meeting at the graveyard with the first of the circle to which he will become attachedOnce you understand that the novel is about sex and particularly the attempt by the uncomprehending male any Noman to understand the varieties of female response then things start to fall into placeThe male characters appear to have interior lives that are constructed out of ideas the Platonist the dim witted Fascist the New Man Communist Even the second hero of the novel the simultaneously fascinating and unattractive EnochUryen uirm who turns out to be Noman s father is defined by the way he exists through a mythic narrativeUryen s narrative loses its power when it is expressed in the written word HmmmmThe sexual centres are EnochUryen whose intense sexual attraction for women is a mystery to the reader as I believe it is supposed to be and Wizzie the circus girl with an illegitimate childNoman in a classic tribute to Hardy purchases Wizzie to live with him in what proves to be a sexless mistress relationshipTo describe the flow of energies between the characters four or five women and four or five men depending on who you think important to the dynamic is to describe a catalogue of possible relationsI am not going to ruin the book for you by describing that dynamic hereWhat Powys has done with consummate brilliance is to confuse our perceptions about the reality of what is going on in order to concentrate our attention on specific momentsAt these moments two persons connect as if in response to EM Forster s famous appeal on this matterIf he does not always succeed this may be because he is trying to capture the indescribable in words as he subverts the conventions of literature as it stood in the English 1930sThe traditional novel appeared to give verisimilitude to relations by setting them in a real narrative This merely succeeded in masking the fact that such relations have been conventionalised in order to engage the reader in the narrativePowys on the other hand describes very recognisable and specific but relatively momentary points of human connection He adds a degree of unreality or locks an exchange between persons into a clearl. The novels of John Cowper Powys are like none other containing the romantic extravagance and comic exuberance of the great nineteenth century novels with the self conscious depth and introspection of the great Modernists Maiden Castle portrays in pointillist detail the complexities of sexual and romantic feeling that bedevil an eccentric cast of characters and explores the psychological idiosyncras. Y manufactured context This makes #the book extremely hard to describe It is not a narrative with a point or #book extremely hard to describe It is not a narrative with a point or conclusion the ending you are warned is incoherent and perfunctory but a concatenation of set piece incidentsThese are strung together with sufficient narrative to create an air of credibility that begins to collapse only when we think about itWhatever the techniue with all its unlikelihoods it works The mind concentrates on the incident or the anticipation of the incident though Powys often cleverly set us up for something that does not happen but not the conseuences The why is often unclearThe perfunctory ending is in accordance with the book s style What happens next is not very interesting to the author Indeed what actually happens is not of enormous interest What is interesting is how people respond to events It happens is not of enormous interest What is interesting is how people respond to events It the incident that matters not the cause and effect because the incident contains the truth of the relationship As a result we come to think we know the women in the novel as persons whereas the men remain weak not merely unknowable but not subjects we wish to know aboutAgain there is a genius in this Powys a man seems to have decided that he can only try to get to an understanding of women if he presents the men as mere catalystsThese men passively and conventionally worship a mistress challenge a daughter suffer a rejection and so onThe women in this book are very different All are personalities rather than ust obvious types who take their time acting but either act or choose not to act in a determined way They are formidable women most men reading the book will fall a little in love with one of them at some pointDoes Powys succeed in this mission to understand women by abstracting men I am not sure he does entirely but it is a gallant effort and it triggers the paradox underlying the bookThe male ciphers and hysterics three of the main male characters exhibit hysterical or emotional loss of control in a way conventionally associated with women are one thing The women are another They are pragmatic and above all proud and self contained The way the women relate to these ciphers and hysterics turns back in on itself to tell us something about male responses This is where the genius liesThe male reading this book by not identifying with these male types can relate to the internal selves of the women in each case and feel that he is understanding them for the first timeIt is as if Powys has sought a techniue for getting inside a woman s mind based on his observation of behaviour and then opening it up to scrutiny with an implicit cry There see this is how they work Further he tells us that the workings are reasonable and can be understood as reasonable There is certainly nothing in the interior workings of the women that is not reasonable or presented as anything other than a mind to be respected as having its own legitimate perspectiveEven the irrational resistance to sexuality of Jenny in relation to Claudius that appears to be countered effectively by the unexpected and passionate intervention of her father is explainedPast history allows this intervention and
shows a mind 
a mind with new facts and ideas where conventional arguments failed Whether Powys has got it right only women can answerMen will think he has done enough to open a door to understanding what women are really like instead of how conventional literature has presented them to themselves as much as to menYes this is a flawed work those occasional obscurities and the perfunctory closure but it is a remarkable attempt at dealing with one of the great challenges of all literatureThat challenge is how to present the minds of the other sex without falling into conventionalismIt is a novel of psychological realism set within a deliberately arring narrative realistic enough to make us believe that we are presented with reality This reality though is imbued with enough implicit magical or irrational elements to shake us into engaging with the material with life with a fresh eyeThere are many insights to be had from this book but perhaps one of the most interesting is Wizzie s the circus girl s attitude to Old FunkyOld Funky is the unattractive and a moral man who taught her the skills that make her feel alive but who also raped her and is not averse to blackmailConventionalism would make a woman s feelings far from ambivalent but reality can make her compare his engagement with life a cause for a very negative comparison with the sexless love of NomanIt is only a fleeting moment but it is true to interior life and this brings up another techniue of Powys which he carries with commanding effect How the mind can move rapidly through emotional change and see other persons with very different eyes at different timesThe book is set on single days dealt with in great detail with long gaps in the narrative between those days This effect also ars because relationships have advanced between the days without the reader having any idea how or why a change has taken place We have to work back to imagine the cause of the change The only male whose interior life is reported in detail is Noman himself whose lack of self knowledge is. Ies that fuel their hopes and dreams fantasies and failuresAt the center of the novel is the aptly named Dud No man a historical novelist widowed after a yearlong unconsummated marriage to a woman who continues to haunt him Inspired by pity and his own deep loneliness Dud takes Wizzie Ravelston an itinerant circus performer into his home and heart Their awkward yet endearing efforts to create a lif. ,
Maiden Castle