Manservant and Maidservant

Manservant and Maidservant At once the strangest and most marvelous of Ivy Compton Burnett s fictions Manservant and Maidservant has for its subject the domestic life of Horace Lamb sadist skinflint and tyrant But it is whe

  • Title: Manservant and Maidservant
  • Author: Ivy Compton-Burnett Diane Johnson
  • ISBN: 9780940322639
  • Page: 109
  • Format: Paperback
  • At once the strangest and most marvelous of Ivy Compton Burnett s fictions, Manservant and Maidservant has for its subject the domestic life of Horace Lamb, sadist, skinflint, and tyrant But it is when Horace undergoes an altogether unforeseeable change of heart that the real difficulties begin Is the repentant master a victim along with the former slave And how can anyAt once the strangest and most marvelous of Ivy Compton Burnett s fictions, Manservant and Maidservant has for its subject the domestic life of Horace Lamb, sadist, skinflint, and tyrant But it is when Horace undergoes an altogether unforeseeable change of heart that the real difficulties begin Is the repentant master a victim along with the former slave And how can anyone endure the memory of the wrongs that have been done

    One thought on “Manservant and Maidservant”

    1. Rating: NO stars of fiveBkC9) Next to SONS AND LOVERS, the worst, most horrendously offensively overrated piece of crap I've read in my life.I have no reason to revisit this decision. I still feel slightly ill when I think about this boring, annoying book. I left my copy on the subway so some wino would pick it up and realize that life has more to offer than misery, boredom, and despair.I refuse to go any further into this book's gynecology. I hate it too much, and yet still am not masochist eno [...]

    2. When I read Michael Dirda’s Classics for Pleasure I came away with a list of interesting prospects; Manservant and Maidservant was the last on that list. Every one of Dirda’s recommendations has panned out but none more so than this novel. I had put off reading my copy for the longest time because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. I don’t have a native love of Victorian authors (or Victorian-style authors, Compton-Burnett published this in 1947); some I like, some I don’t. But from the [...]

    3. LA GRANDE SIGNORINAHorace Lamb è un padre tiranno avarissimo che, pur vivendo dei soldi della moglie Charlotte, risparmia su tutto. Fa soffrire il freddo (molte scene si svolgono davanti al caminetto, al fuoco acceso o spento) ai figli e a tutta la famiglia, e anche la fame ai suoi figli che manda in giro con vestiti vecchi e malmessi. La moglie Charlotte medita di lasciarlo per Mortimer, il cugino di Horace, da lui mantenuto perché non possiede nulla e non lavora. Poco nota, non particolarmen [...]

    4. If Oscar Wilde and Molière tried to write Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, they might have come up with something like Manservant and Maidservant. On one hand, this book seems to be a comedy of errors like The Importance of Being Earnest. On the other hand, it seems to be a satire like The Misanthrope. On yet the other hand, there is a delightful storyline revolving around the five Lamb children that's reminiscent of some perennially popular 19th Century children's novels.I kept hearing t [...]

    5. MANSERVANT AND MAIDSERVANT. (1947). Ivy Compton-Burnett. **. I’m not sure how I managed to make it through this novel, but I finally did. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author, and, likely the last. It is the story of an English household in Victorian times. The master of the house, Horace Lamb, is a tyrant, and rules the household in an iron grip. His wife, Charlotte, is preparing to leave him, to elope with his cousin, Mortimer. Mortimer was a ward of Horace’s father, and live [...]

    6. In Manservant and Maidservant, Compton-Burnett eases her staccato prose, laden with interstitial tone and meaning, though it remains mostly dialog frosted with lies--lies in their infinite variety of dissembling and concealment. The exception is the children, who echo the truths the adults avoid; the children have the most astute lines in the book. C-B's "novels" are really plays, pared down to electric flashes as if crossing gaps, shorting out. Considered in the large, they are comedy of manner [...]

    7. This book is extremely odd, and far more difficult than I had expected. It took longer and required much more sustained attention than I thought it would. Other reviewers have described the dialog (and the book is nearly entirely dialog) as "stilted"; I can see what they mean, but I think this is the case only because the characters' lives are also stilted. With the exception of George, who shows rountine signs of both emotion and wild inappropriateness, the characters seem to be able to do terr [...]

    8. i wish i could say i liked this more than i did. compton-burnett's novel is very like a play. it is evident that she has a very strong command of the english language, and of dialogue, but it was not enough to carry the book, which left me cold. the bottom line, as it often is, is that i didn't like the people in this book. i didn't like horace, the patriarch/bully at the centre of the piece, i didn't like mortimer, his milque-toast cousin and would-be cuckold, or horace's wife charlotte, or the [...]

    9. Drudgery! While I appreciated the style the novel was written in--driven by dialog and bare, "stage" directions--I found the characters mostly repellant in their dullness. The tutor's mother, Gertrude, was infuriatingly, gratingly, self-righteous. I suppose her character was meant in parody, but it caused me anguish. One character--that of Mortimer--was consistently entertaining. The section where Horace confronts Mortimer, and the ensuing dialog there, is really brilliant. I would assign that s [...]

    10. ‘We need not make fun of them. We are a family ourselves.’ — Horace, p. 90This is predictably stodgy and I mean that as a compliment. In the way of Waugh, Wodehouse, Wilde. Is she better or worse than them? At times, the conversations are just her trying to outdo herself. But she DOES have like eighteen main characters to wrangle around. And I didn’t find myself forgetting who was who. Even with all the children.She isn’t as funny as Waugh, but she is, I think, pithier. In a way that B [...]

    11. A professor of English suggested that I read Ivy Compton-Burnett for an example of how to conjure setting through dialogue. Having done so, I'm not sure I understand what he meant. It's written almost entirely in complex, stilted dialogue, almost as if the characters are making speeches on stage. The settings were sketchily evoked and hardly mattered. The interplay between the characters is interesting, but the story creaks. I felt it needed actors to bring it to life - to decide whether to play [...]

    12. This is my first encounter with the author Ivy Compton-Burnett, after having meant to read her for years (decades, really). My colleague Andrea C. had read it and warned me it was odd, and she was right. The structural feature that makes it unusual is that the story is predominantly told in dialogue, which does take some getting used to -- though after a while, you do, or at least, I did (Andrea said the same, so don't let that feature put you off). It's almost, but not quite, like reading a pla [...]

    13. I have always been curious about Ivy Compton-Burnett becuase of the descriptions of her work as a dark cynical wit, stripping bare the pretensions of her time. When I finally sat down to read Manservant and Maidservant I was expecting something along the lines of Saki and was sadly disapointed. Essentially everything takes place in an on the surface humdrum fashion with dark undercurrants revealed layer by layer in the dialogue between the various characters who all regardless of age, gender or [...]

    14. Although set in Victorian England and written by an author who lived through the Victorian period, there's very little about Manservant and Maidservant that's Victorian. The characters, true, talk like they're all Oscar Wilde, but Compton-Burnett clearly sees right past their facades. Nobody ever means what they say here, and everyone has skeletons in their closets (or out in the open). Although it can get a bit hard to follow if you don't pay attention, Manservant and Maidservant is masterfully [...]

    15. The dialogue killed me. Nobody talks like this, expect maybe people in poorly written screenplays.I'm sure there is genius in Burnett; maybe I'm looking for all the wrong things in the wrong place. But Austen had reaped free narrative discourse about 140 years earlier and Woolf had done such beautiful things with this and stream of consciousness and throughout the book I just wanted to reach through time, slap Burnett, and command her to use the tools her processors had painstakingly honed for h [...]

    16. This book, first published in 1947, is set at least 50 years earlier and focuses narrowly on one family with a rather tyrannical father, their neglected children, their servants, and a very small number of friends. The story is mainly told through dialogue and that, with the limited number of characters and settings, makes it seem almost like reading a play. The dialogue is clever in a witty way and requires a certain amount of concentration. I liked it a lot and I think I will enjoy more of her [...]

    17. This book was published in 1947, two years after Henry Green's book Loving, which has a similar story about the contrast between the servants of a large British house and the family members. I have no idea whether or not the authors knew each other but I think they would have had an interesting conversation about class consciousness in these situations. I have to say that I prefer Green's book, but this one has its own quirky assets. The two are a good double bill

    18. Com'è che nessuno legge la signorina Ivy Compton-Burnett? Ho letto questo libro in tre giorni esatti. Un libro fatto tutto di dialoghi serratissimi, di aforismi lancinanti, un libro perfetto e di grande cinismo e cattiveria. E' leggera, allegra velocissima e nello stesso tempo intrisa di pessimismo cosmico. A tratti ricorda Beckett e Jonesco. Com'è che nessuno legge Ivy Compton-Burnett? Appena trovo un altro libro lo compro. Ne ha scritti 18 e io sono solo al primo. Che fortuna!

    19. An interesting read more for the writer's personal history than the book itself. It is Victorian English and almost all dialogue, so it takes some getting used to. However, Compton-Burnett's personal history was so Victorian itself that you can understand why a contemporary of Virgina Wolff was writing like a Jane Austen ocntemporary.

    20. Sometimes children are nasty little buggers. But then, those nasties came from somewhere; more often than not, much taller beasties, who should rather know better.

    21. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to finish the book as it seemed rather slow and not all that involved. But half-way through there was a "happening" that suddenly changed the direction of the book and you wondered if the characters had really changed. It was worth finishing and is one of those books that you think about and ponder after the fact. I'd recommend it if you're interested in family Victorian Life. And, i did find it somewhat difficult to read as (and it's stated in the introduction) i [...]

    22. Manservant and Maidservant is so different from anything I’ve read – classic or contemporary – that I struggled with it at first (though that may also have been due to the tiny font and yellowing paper of my ancient library copy). I’m so glad I persevered.Although it was published in 1947, the novel is set some fifty years earlier. It tells the story of the Lamb family. Horace Lamb is a petty tyrant in his own household, though he in turn is beholden to his wife’s wealth. His dependent [...]

    23. “But I will tell you something that I could breathe to no one else. She is not as much the meaning of my life as I thought. Separation has estranged us, or shown us the truth, or done some other shameful thing. I am so glad to have the word to breathe to you; I should not have liked to part without one. And now our parting is quite a success. I do not think my life has any meaning. And I find I do not want it to have any. I am one of those creatures who drag out a meaningless existence, and th [...]

    24. Entertaining in spots, but on the whole I have to agree with Joyce Carol Oates' eloquent assessment in her review of Compton-Burnett's biography in The New York Times, avaible online here:These are refreshing moments; but the overall effect of a Compton-Burnett work is that of listening to actors recite lines in a deliberately self-conscious and self- mocking manner, aware of the absurdity of the awkward plot conventions in which they are involved (hidden letters, destroyed wills, newfound wills [...]

    25. * 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and SelfSelected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.

    26. So weird. The dialogue-only, no-frills style takes time to adjust to, but the sense of menace and of humour too is conjured up brilliantly. The book captures a time and a milieu that no longer exist - and didn't exist by the time it was written - but it draws you in completely. A lesson in how to evoke atmosphere and characters without adjectives - many authors could usefully take note!

    27. This was hyped as a bizarre and funny period piece. It's mostly written in dialogue and reads more like a complex play. The children speak well above their years which produces some funny bits, but overall it was a bit of a slog to get through.

    28. Odd and interesting. I feel like my overall opinion could easily change in either direction, but it's certainly elegant and stylized in a way I've never quite seen before.

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