Arnold Bennett, The Glimpse, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1909)
‘Self-Portrait’ by Charles Conder (Tullie House) [Charles Conder is one of several artists mentioned in ‘The Glimpse’]
Arnold Bennett has been described as a materialist, a realist, a writer whose novels have ‘a narrative emphasis on the drab, the squalid and the mundane’.  He was, however, also capable of dreaming. In one such dream, he writes that he ‘stood by my own dead body and saw the pennies upon my eyes. I cannot remember at this distance of time what the rest of the dream was, but it had to do with the adventures of a soul after death’.
Never one to waste good material, Bennett immediately saw the potential for a story, and in May 1908 he wrote the short story ‘The Glimpse’ about the proprietor of a Staffordshire earthenware factory who has an out-of-body experience whilst lying in bed close to death. Bennett quickly came to the view that the material of the story was capable of being much more fully developed into a full-length novel with sound commercial prospects. Belief in Spiritualism was widespread, so the story of a soul’s adventures at the point of death would not lack a potential audience. Bennett wrote and published his approximately 70,000 word novel The Glimpse in 1909, between his two longer and better-known acknowledged masterpieces The Old Wives’ Tale (1908) and Clayhanger (1910). Continue reading
Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following event, taking place on the 13th-15th August 2015, in Oxford:
“MacDonald is the greatest genius of this kind whom I know.”
The ‘Inklings’, an Oxford group that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams, has long been recognized as one of the most creative literary groups of the mid-twentieth century, one whose fantasy writings in particular have become a major influence on the development of subsequent literature and film. But, as they freely acknowledged, behind these lay an earlier generation of Victorian writers who pioneered the forms they developed – perhaps most notably George MacDonald. With the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis we wish to explore the many connections, and to see some of the ways in which the work of the Inklings was ‘informed’ by the work MacDonald and his fellow fantasists. Speakers include Kerry Dearborn, Danny Gableman, Malcolm Guite, Monika Hilder, Stephen Logan, Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, Gisela Kreglinger, John Pennington, Stephen Prickett (Chair) and Jean Webb. As Magdalen was Lewis’s college – host to many ‘Inkling’ discussions – and as Oxford’s history is long-entwined with the genre of fantasy, the conference will include a thematic introduction to relevant sites. Proposals (including name and institutional affiliation, CV, title of the paper, and an abstract of no more than 400 words) to email@example.com by May 1, 2014.
For more information, see here.