[Epub] ➟ Enemies of Promise By Cyril Connolly – Transportjobsite.co.uk

[Epub] ➟ Enemies of Promise By Cyril Connolly – Transportjobsite.co.uk chapter 1 Enemies of Promise, meaning Enemies of Promise, genre Enemies of Promise, book cover Enemies of Promise, flies Enemies of Promise, Enemies of Promise a0022a75f8728 Whom The Gods Wish To Destroy, Writes Cyril Connolly, They First Call Promising First Published In And Long Out Of Print, Enemies Of Promise, An Inquiry Into The Problem Of How To Write A Book That Lasts Ten Years, Tests The Boundaries Of Criticism, Journalism, And Autobiography With The Blistering Prose That Became Connolly S Trademark Connolly Here Confronts The Evils Of Domesticity, Politics, Drink, And Advertising As Well As Novelists Such As Joyce, Proust, Hemingway, And Faulkner In Essays That Remain Fresh And Penetrating To This Day A Fine Critic, Compulsive Traveler, And Candid Autobiographer Connolly Lays Down The Law For All Writers Who Wanted To Count He Had Imagination And Decisive Images Flashed With The Speed Of Wit In His Mind V S Pritchett, New YorkReview Of Books Anyone Who Writes, Or Wants To Write, Will Find Something On Just About Every Single Page That Either Endorses A Long Held Prejudice Or Outrages, And That Makes It A Pretty Compelling Read You End Up Muttering Back At Just About Every Ornately Constructed Pens E That Connolly Utters, But That S One Of The Joys Of This Book Nick Hornby, The Believer A Remarkable Book Anthony Powell

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10 thoughts on “Enemies of Promise

  1. says:

    On the upside, the next time anyone complains about how The Literary Establishment has always forced people to write in single genres and thus distorted the Genius Writer, I can point to one book as showing what rubbish that statement is On the downside, I now know why this is cult classic and less just classic I was led to expect much I thought the first section by far the most interesting Connolly s understanding of literature, and particularly literary history, was ahead of its time and light years ahead of most contemporary polemicists, who continue to insist that there s some everlasting ideal of literature and that we ll only get to that if we insert your least favorite literary trend here I go with write memoirs Connolly knew the truth literary trends are entirely reactive Naturalism was followed by modernism, which was followed by various anti modernist reactions, which were followed by post modernism, which is now being followed by various returns to either a sincerity or b modernist technique Each movement other than naturalism, for me will produce a few books worth reading Cyril read everything of his time, it seems, and his simple categories still work today, as we swing between vernacular naturalism, anti modernism, sincerity and mandarin decadence, modernism, post modernism, neo modernism And he comes up with some odd pairings for instance, Maugham, Joyce and Lawrence, all of whom were fixated on the word grey On the vernacular side, he splices together sentences by Orwell, Isherwood and Hemingway, which is a pretty convincing way of showing how dull they can be The second section describes the situation of the author, and is fairly dull The third section is memoir meant to fulfill the rules laid down in part one It doesn t succeed I d much rather read Powell s autobiography four times over I d rather read Powell s Dance to the Music of Time But that s mainly because I don t really think high school is a formative experience for most people it might have been for Connolly, but that doesn t come through all that much I should probably re read it, though Special bonus marks for recognizing that 18th century prose was the high point of English literature.


  2. says:

    In the first part of this book, Connolly examines the dual trends of stripped down, vernacular storytelling and elevated, stylistically ambitious prose in early 20th century novels He looks at the strengths and weaknesses of both styles and proposes a synthesis It s interesting stuff, rendered dated in its prescriptions by the fact that the dam was about burst a vast array of styles far beyond the elitist mandarin or demotic vernacular of his analysis were to explode on the literary scene And yet, the essential ebb and flow of forces of stylistic complication and simplification are still a valid way to view literary history In the second part, he lists the factors that can prevent a writer from realising his promise Some of these are largely valid and others seem a bit ridiculous try telling Shirley Jackson that a pram in the hallway is the writer s worst enemy His analysis of the alleged limitations of a homosexual writer are ludicrous and there is a tacit assumption that the promising writer is male, despite his acknowledgment of the existence of Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes The thing with all his enemies of promise, is that I can list writers who have realised their promise despite them, but still Connolly does provide a useful list of things that the indisciplined or simply insufficiently driven or inspired writer can use as ways to drift away from writing The third section is a memoir of his youth which serves as a fascinating study of the s of a world that vanished with the world wars, an interesting study in self analysis and a useful complement to his classmate George Orwell s memories of some of the same aspects A very mixed book with some streaks of totally brilliant analysis and much that is contentious at best Definitely a mandarin book, style wise


  3. says:

    I have always disliked myself at any given moment the total of such moments is my life.


  4. says:

    This is a rather surprising and confusing book only the middle third is like I thought it would be which is also the part advertised by the title Since this section is by far the shortest, it leaves me with a lot of time to reflect on the other two.The first eighty or so pages which lay out the Predicament, as Connolly calls it are given over, as he puts it, to the problem of how to write a book which lasts ten years This was, now that I think about it, an advertisement that attracted me as a reader I am much interested in writers views on writing What I had not realized is that, in enquiring into style and form in the novel, Connolly was interested in a specific ten years that is, the years that were to immediately follow the writing of his book and that for his data he drew upon books that had appeared in the thirty or so years preceding Which is, I suppose, reasonable enough But the reader should be aware that, in addressing this problem, Connolly is not so much interested in the properties we might look at as those which make a a book timeless Instead, he is very interested in figuring out which of the two kinds of literary prose that as he viewed it were paramount in 1938 were likely to still be au courant in 1948, given both the cultural and literary tends as he foresaw them, and the approaching convulsions of history.What all this means is that Part I of Enemies of Promise is a detailed, witty and absorbing snapshot of the state of English literature in 1938, at least as it stood to an educated, perceptive, snobby English reader I use snobby with consideration, by the way Connolly applies the word to himself and to his class without apparent embarrassment or remorse If you are the kind of reader who is interested in Modernism, its reception, and early twentieth century literary culture, you ought to find this very interesting reading If, however, you were hoping to learn what Cyril Connolly thinks makes a really good, timeless and lasting book, you will be disappointed This is not a writer on how to write In fact, as one gradually realizes in reading Part III, this book is a writer explaining his view of not writing, and how he came to do it Part III of the book is, as Connolly faithfully labels it, A Georgian Boyhood This is a very curious piece of autobiography at least, it reads that way to me Upon reflection I suspect that it is probably almost impossible for a contemporary American reader of 2009 to take away from this piece anything like what Connolly intended It is woven through, indeed undergirded, with what appear to be cultural assumptions regarding what aspects of the story his audience will find interesting For instance, he begins the tale by apologizing for starting off with the early aura of large houses, fallen fortunes and county families common to so many English biographers Personally, I found this part of the story absorbing young Cyril Connolly grew up in castles but apparently it is such a common theme among the kind of people he thinks about, and for whom he writes, that he fears it stale and clich d.Where things get really strange, though, is when he gets us through his early schooling and takes us along to his years at Eton, the great and storied public i.e private boys school that has channeled so many of England s elite Connolly s experiences at Eton make up the bulk of this section, and I find myself of two minds about this part One the one hand, reading it as the reader I am American, twenty first century, not soaked in English ideas about character and class the details Connolly piles on about the twiddling ins and outs of Eton life, his constantly shifting array of friends, his political maneuvering, his prizes, become self indulgent and then very quickly intolerable One wants to shout I don t bloody care who you shouldered on with the Michaelmas term you got into Pop, you idiot On the other hand, I have the sort of impression that Connolly probably thought, and rightly, that these infinite details would be fascinating to his readers, just because they were a true story of Eton which is, after all, like Harvard is to Americans only now imagine you could get into Harvard at thirteen It is a place with an aura, and one that lays great expectations for its students And, of course, there is the fact that a lot of the names he drops turned out to be people with Wikipedia entries and Orders of the British Empire Of the classmates Connolly mentioned, I may only have recognized George Orwell and distantly, distantly, Cecil Beaton , but to the English many of those self absorbed spotty fourteen year olds turned out to be Famous Names One thing about this section though I feel extremely uncharitable for thinking it, Connolly s statements about homosexuality seem depressing to me From his autobiographical writing, it s blatantly clear that Connolly is himself homosexual He starts out as a sensitive child, and goes on to fall in romantic love with a series of boys and young men throughout his childhood and adolescence, even as, by his own descriptions, he becomes and witty, fussy, and dramatically and aesthetically inclined Bitchy, even queeny, rather I feel uncharitable, as I say, but what s a reader to do It s his own autobiography And yet Connolly appears to go on to associate homosexuality with immaturity and emotional stuntedness As, I suppose, most people of his time did But what does it say about the man himself, and his views of his own spiritual, artistic, personal development There is really surprisingly little self revelation in the book s 120 pages of autobiography I suppose that is something else I found disappointing.Where, then, after all this, are the Enemies of Promise Well, they do actually sort of show up in that Part III in Connolly s depressing, yet understandable, conclusion, which is basically that the British elite school system ruins people for life but where they are mostly is in Part II Which, to tell the truth, sort of seems like it could be read on its own, and is the most vivid part of the book to me Here, Connolly audaciously and somehow without wasting words, as he does almost everywhere else in the text grabs a passage from a poem by George Crabbe about weeds that grow on a heath and make it impossible to plant rye, and sails off into big allegorical country with a single bravado postulate Let the thin harvest of the poem be the achievement of the young author, he says, the wither d ears their books, then the militant thistles represent politics, the nodding poppies day dreams, conversation, drink and other narcotics, the blue Bugloss is the clarion call of journalism, the slimy mallow that of worldly success, the charlock is sex with its obsessions and the clasping tares are the ties of domesticity And he goes on to discuss each of them, one by one, in admirably succint chapters That I found interesting It s food for thought, and I can recommend reading it.


  5. says:

    Just finished Part I, the witty survey of English literary trends, feuds and factions from 1890 until 1938 The copy I have is a library one, so I may not proceed until I can buy my own markable copy Connolly has such an aphoristic style at times I m conscious of reading through filler before the zinger that I need to read him with pen in hand.


  6. says:

    William Boyd said of this Somehow manages to enshrine in his words and life everything that we aspire to, and that intellectually ennobles us, and all that is weak and worst in us as well.


  7. says:

    There is but one crime, to escape from our talent Cyril Connolly 1903 1974 was a British reviewer, critic and writer of distinction Connolly s Unquiet Grave a despondent meditation on creativity, and existence, in a world challenged by the destruction of World War II is one of my favorite books I finally got around to ordering Enemies of Promise, first published in 1938 and designed to solve the problem of how to write an enduring book by his count, one that stands for at least a decade The book is split into three major parts The first is an audit of British writing, tracing the rise and fall of some of the well known authors and poets many of whom were not familiar to me as well as their main styles of writing This section really brought to life Connolly s breadth of knowledge related to the landscape of English letters The second part is focused on advice for how writers can live up to their own promise and produce a lasting work this includes some of the pitfalls they must avoid As an author and a reader, I found this section enlightening and at time maddening, given the similar challenges facing writers then and now The third section is a personal history of his time at Eton, a boy s school, and the tremendous psychological torture he endured that shaped his later career As this book makes clear, Connolly had an admirable grasp on the history of creative writing, especially in England, and offered some keen insights for writers that still ring true today And, best of all, he has a unique, lyrical but imminently approachable style that makes his writing sing and spotlights the agile workings of an impossibly sharp mind Writing is a impure art than music or painting It is an art, but it is also the medium in which millions of inartistic people express themselves, describe their work, sell their goods, justify their conduct, propagate their ideas It is the vehicle of all business and propaganda At the present time for a book to be produced with any hope of lasting half a generation, of outliving a dog or a car, of surviving the lease of a house or the life of a bottle of champagne, it must be written against the current, in a prose that makes demands both on the resources of our language and the intelligence of the reader Our language is a sulky and inconstant beauty and at any given moment it is important to know what liberties she will permit To day, the forces of life and progress are ranging on one side, those of reaction and death on the other We are having to choose between democracy and fascism, and fascism is the enemy of art drunkenness is a substitute for art it is in itself a low form of creation I love his suggestion that readers who enjoy a book get in the habit of sending a small tip or other token of appreciation to the author That is a trend I certainly wish had caught on though I d settle for honest reviews The third section about life at boy s school, though it gave me my favorite line in the book I have always disliked myself at any given moment the total of such moments is my life was an odd addition It certainly presented tragic insights into the cruelty of those days, but did little to get to the core question of how to write a book that endures Setting aside the curious but moving excursion into Pink Floyd level schoolboy terrors, did Connolly s book meet the very challenge he set out to resolve Probably Though his name and reputation aren t exactly well known almost 80 years later, there s much of value to be found in his writing once you get past the, what seems now, stilted and mostly masculine language for writers, and artists of all stripes Not only did Connolly make a life and a career out of thinking seriously and deeply about literature and creativity, he also seemed scarred by the loss of life accompanying WWII almost prescient in his defense of art and his despair at a world willing to risk everything for, ultimately, nothing At present the realities are life and death, peace and war, fascism and democracy we are in a world which may soon become unfit for humans to live in Artistic work may not last longer than the life of a bottle of champagne, but it seems despair about the short sightedness of global politics if we can t learn the lessons Connolly laid out 80 years ago will always endure.


  8. says:

    This is a book written by a very well known literary critic and journalist, Cyril Connolly It sets out to address the issue of why he never became the successful author of fiction that he aspired to and that others felt he should have become.It is set in 3 parts, the first part is literary criticism He talks in great detail about mandarin and realistic writing, analyses different writers and poets such as Hemingway, Maugham, Joyce, and a few others I haven t heard of and talks a little about what literature and poetry will last than 10 years and what writing will be lost in the passage of time, i.e what components make writing last the distance I think the idea of many successful authors who write in a way that compliments the times is a good one, the writing that appealed before the world wars will be different than writing that appeals after, because the world is a different place, the tone of society has changed Part 2 is quite short and refers directly to the title of the book, documenting different obstructions to a promising writer, e.g politics, journalism, money or lack of etc.The third part is autobiographical, and documents his schooling, prep and in in depth, his Eton days I was looking forward to this part but I found it the least interesting, and it is this part that made my review slump to 2 stars Connolly is obviously incredibly nostalgic about his Eton days, and I don t feel I grasped many insights into why he didn t publish a successful novel from hearing about all of his friendships and the boys he loved, in great detail I think the problem here is that all of his friends proceeded to be venerable figures in the literary world of that time, but I haven t heard of any of them aside from Orwell, so was vastly uninterested in who Cyril s favourite was the month.The only insight I did get from this part was when he was discussing that Eton created a kind of false world for its pupils, an insulated world involved in its classical history and literature and its medals and its hierarchy, where many of the students flourished, but that it doesn t prepare a boy for the real world and a boy s Eton s days can end up being his best days However, I still wasn t interested in a detailed account and reminisce of his Eton days, and there was very little discussion about how this changed him in any meaningful way I think perhaps a lot of my complaints here can be attributed to the dating of this book but considering in the first part, Connolly was discussing successful writing that DOESN T date, you d think he could have avoided it himself I can tell from parts of his writing and what I ve read about him that he was an incredibly interesting man and writer but I just didn t see enough of it in this book.


  9. says:

    Connolly is a true pleasure to read Pay no attention to his complaints those Eton types were chaps who could turn a phrase or two Book I provides a detailed round up of early 20th C prose as seen through the dialectic of mandarin and vernacular style Book II is a marvel It s not on the curriculum of any MFA programs that I am aware of for the obv reasons , but it could easily be the sole text in a course listed as Literary Ambition Its Discontents Gotta love Book III too Connolly puts his lesson plan into use to see if he measures up Critic, write thyself The autobiographical sketch of boyhood in England s finest schools is reminiscent of and provides a nice counterpoint to Orwell s on the same topic.


  10. says:

    A secondhand edition of this book, first published in 1938, has sat on my shelves since I finished university I finally got around to reading it following a deadline at the end of last year The delay was probably necessary, but approached now I did indeed find as many have before me that Connolly s book said about the practise of being a writer, and the pitfalls that surround it, than any other single volume Highly recommended.


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