Lolly Willowes (Virago Modern Classics)
About this deal
These masculinist texts prove inadequate, and, realising that Zeph won’t take her across the marsh, she has soon ‘found her way to the sea alone’ (TH, 25). The preservationist culture of landscape was one in which ‘particular sets of practices are seen to generate particular ways of being in the landscape, [and] which thereby becomes the occasion for an intellectual, spiritual and physical citizenship’.
Here, Laura’s imagination is spatialised, marginal and waste spaces stimulating in her ‘a kind of ungodly hallowedness’ (LW, 67).Eric – degenerate by society’s standards – becomes the ideal pastoral subject, a prelapsarian whose goodness preserves him from society’s ills. M. Trevelyan described the sensory unity of his body while hiking as an ‘ecstasy of body and mind’; Vaughan Cornish, in Scenery and the Sense of Sight (1935), declared, ‘I regard the refined action of the senses as revelational’. On October 20, a new film adaptation of John Williams’s novel Butcher’s Crossing, published by NYRB Classics in 2007, will be released in select movie theaters across the U.
For Laura, spinsterhood similarly enacts a disqualification from normative sexual discourse; as a social designation, it implies the surplus and suspect. Warner’s story also borrows from a tradition of short fables meant to share a moral lesson, connecting her with Aesop. Her novels correspondingly present a detailed rejection of normative masculinist approaches to landscape, espousing instead an alternative ruralism built upon feminist and queer identity.Sylvia Townsend Warner was born on December 6th, 1893, to a middle-class family in Harrow-on-the-Hill, England. As Laura catches her ‘recurrent autumnal fever’, her imagination is drawn ‘to wander in darkened fields and by desolate sea-bords, through marshes and fens, and along the outskirts of brooding woods’ (LW, 147). From 1917 she was in regular employment as one of the editors of Tudor Church Music,  ten volumes published by Oxford University Press in the 1920s with the support of the Carnegie UK Trust.
It is best as one grows older to strip oneself of possessions, to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.Lolly addresses it when, having embraced her witchy self, she has a long conversation with a middle-aged country gent who turns out to be Satan. As the second part of this essay proposes, Warner’s early novels foreground the body in encounters of landscape.