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The Death of the Heart download epub

by Elizabeth Bowen


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Elizabeth Bowen, following Virginia Woolf, did that for me. I felt we were soul mates. This book is one of the reasons why I believe stories are redeeming. Like food, second chances, bringing back to life a deadened heart.

Elizabeth Bowen, following Virginia Woolf, did that for me. And Death of the Heart was my favourite of her novels. Essentially it’s a novel There was a time in my youth when I fell in love with Elizabeth Bowen. I love this book intensely as if it has some kind of gravitational pull or hold on me that reminds me of it during times of feeling what I cannot put name to.

Book Source: Digital Library of India Item 2015. author: Bowen Elizabeth d. ate. te: 2004-03-17 d. citation: 1938 d. dentifier: Librarian, Rashtrapati Bhavan d. dentifier. origpath: /data d. copyno: 1 d.

The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set in the interwar period. It is about a sixteen-year-old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Thomas and falls in love with Eddie, a friend of her sister-in-law. Bowen called it a 'pre-war' novel, "a novel which reflects the time, the pre-war time with its high tension, its increasing anxieties, and this great stress on individualism.

When this book was initially published, it would have appealed to the middle-class and upper-class, as this book represents the life in a middle-class household. Not only this, but the working class would not be intellectual enough for this novel, and it wouldn’t appeal to them either.

Elizabeth Bowen’s 1948 novel perfectly captures the atmosphere of London during the blitz, writes Robert McCrum

Elizabeth Bowen’s 1948 novel perfectly captures the atmosphere of London during the blitz, writes Robert McCrum. Like The Death of the Heart, her prewar masterpiece, The Heat of the Day opens in Regent’s Park, on the first Sunday of September 1942, with the sinister figure of Harrison, a counterespionage agent posing as an airman, chatting up a woman at an open-air concert. He’s killing time till his evening date with Stella Rodney, the novel’s protagonist, an attractive, independent woman on happy sensuous terms with life who works for a government agency called XYD and is described as a camper in rooms of draughty dismantled houses.

Elizabeth Bowen is widely considered to be one of the greatest novelists of the Twentieth Century. Ms Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899, the only child of an Irish lawyer and landowner

Elizabeth Bowen is widely considered to be one of the greatest novelists of the Twentieth Century. While her novels masquerade as witty comedies of manners, set in the lavish country houses of the Anglo-Irish or in elegant London homes, they mine the depths of private tragedy with a subtle ferocity and psychological complexity comparable to Henry James. Ms Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899, the only child of an Irish lawyer and landowner. Her book Bowen’s Court (1942) is the history of her family and their house, in County Cork. Throughout her life, she divided her time between London and Bowen’s Court, which she inherited.

Five words of advice on reading Elizabeth Bowen: Resist the urge to skim. In The Death of the Heart, Bowen's writing rolls ever onward, accruing the sensations and ironies of conscious living till the final effect is massive. This is not prose for people who like their fiction with a cool, Calvin Klein-like minimalism. Bowen's people are keenly aware, and she seems to catalogue every sweaty moment, every betraying glance.

The more I read of Elizabeth Bowen, the more I fall in love with her writing. She's an acquired taste, certainly, but I adore the clipped, stark dialogue of her upper class, early 20th century characters. To the North is still my favourite of her novels, yet The Death of the Heart is marvellous at portraying the awkwardness and confusion of the teen years, and the devastation of the first experience of betrayal by those we love. Portia Quayne is 16 when she is sent to live with her much older, emotionally distant half brother Thomas and his cold, glamorous wife Anna in their luxurious house overlooking Regent’s Park.

The Death of the Heart is perhaps Elizabeth Bowen's best-known book. As she deftly and delicately exposes the cruelty that lurks behind the polished surfaces of conventional society, Bowen reveals herself as a masterful novelist who combines a sense of humor with a devastating gift for divining human motivations.

The Death of the Heart is perhaps Elizabeth Bowen's best-known book. As she deftly and delicately exposes the cruelty that lurks behind the polished surfaces of conventional society, Bowen reveals herself as a masterful novelist who combines a sense of humor with a devastating gift for divining human motivations.In this piercing story of innocence betrayed set in the thirties, the orphaned Portia is stranded in the sophisticated and politely treacherous world of her wealthy half-brother's home in London.There she encounters the attractive, carefree cad Eddie. To him, Portia is at once child and woman, and her fears her gushing love. To her, Eddie is the only reaason to be alive. But when Eddie follows Portia to a sea-side resort, the flash of a cigarette lighter in a darkened cinema illuminates a stunning romantic betrayal--and sets in motion one of the most moving and desperate flights of the heart in modern literature.

Comments: (7)

Jelar
This is a beautifully written story. The rich and complex characterization engulfs the reader in the inner lives of the characters, unlike so many recently published novels I've read where the authors expect readers to appreciate their narratives simply by virtue of how clever a writer she or he is. This is mature writing, created by an author who can reveal the depths of her characters' thoughts and motivations deeply and with sympathy for what it means to be always and only trapped in ones own mind.
Paradoxically, it is also very enjoyable to read and the plot moves forward very easily, especially for a character driven story. As a reader living in an environment of brusque and abbreviated language and expedient plots, this book was a pleasant challenge and an enjoyable reading experience.
Perius
First off, let me say that the Anchor paperback edition is a pleasure to read, as are all the Bowen novels in this series. It has clean generous type, a binding that stays open, a cover that feels good in the hand, an attractive and totally relevant illustration, typography that captures both Bowen's elegance and her modernity, and -- wonder of wonders -- a back-cover blurb that brilliantly encapsulates the essence of this elusive novel. For example: "As she deftly and delicately exposes the cruelty that lurks behind the polished surfaces of conventional society, Bowen reveals herself as a masterful novelist who combines a sharp sense of humor with a devastating gift for divining human motivations."

Not for nothing does the book-jacket writer compare Elizabeth Bowen to Henry James. For this is a very Jamesian subject. The recently-orphaned 16-year-old Portia, Bowen's heroine, is significantly older than James' Maisie (WHAT MAISIE KNEW) and younger than his Isabel Archer (THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY), but like them she is thrust into sophisticated society as a naive observer, and the book is mainly taken up by the author's razor-sharp dissection of that society and sensitive exploration of the heroine's feelings.

What is surprising here, even in comparison to Henry James or to the other Elizabeth Bowen novels that I have read (THE LAST SEPTEMBER and THE HOUSE IN PARIS), is that so little actually happens. Everything seems to point to a premature sexual affair which will proves disastrous for Portia, especially once she falls for the charms of the caddish Eddie, whose previous dalliances we have already seen described. Portia herself is the offspring of her father's late-life affair, which has forced him to leave his life of English respectability and to live abroad; there is a sense of unreliability in the bloodline. Even the title of the book, THE DEATH OF THE HEART, and the subtitles of its three major parts -- "The World," "The Flesh," and "The Devil" -- all seem to be leading in this direction.

And yet, while sexuality is always present in the subtext (another Jamesian quality), it never tips over into action. This is a book in which so simple an event as Eddie's holding the wrong girl's hand at a movie can have traumatic significance; there is no need to go farther. I can only think that Bowen's misdirection is deliberate. In the course of waiting for something to happen, the reader finds that he has absorbed countless details and impressions of everyday life that, taken cumulatively, have an even more devastating effect. This book is like a timed-release drug capsule; you may feel comparatively little after you have finished reading it, but it continues to work in the mind long after you have put it down.

In her three-part structure, Bowen contrasts two different strata of English society. The outer sections are set in the upper-class world of Portia's half-brother Thomas and his wife Anna, who live in an expensive house in one of the Nash Terraces fronting Regent's Park. Thomas is withdrawn and remote; Anna leads a busy social life with many male friends; they communicate only superficially with each other and hardly at all with Portia, who is forced to turn to the housekeeper, Matchett, as the nearest thing to a confidante. It is no wonder that she falls for Eddie, whom she sees as an outsider just like her. Meeting him at first assuages her loneliness, but his eventual small betrayals only serve to heighten it.

Contrasting with London society is a month that Portia spends with Anna's former governess Mrs. Heccomb, in an off-season seaside resort. Having been brought up in a similar resort town myself, I found Bowen's description of the wind-battered setting and the cheerfully rowdy life of the young people whom Portia meets there one of the most vivid sections of this excellently-observed book. While the apparently free-and-easy quality of this middle-class setting can be seen to have its own limitations and proprieties, it sends Portia back to town with an unbearable sense of the shallow frigidity of her life with Thomas and Anna. And the events of the weekend when Eddie comes down to join her, although slow to make their full effect, eventually alter their relationship (and Portia's view of herself) irretrievably.

One of the most poignant aspects of the book is its awareness of transience. Thomas and Anna are eminently settled in their house, their work, their society; even the constant motion of the Heccomb young people and their set is based on an underlying stability. But Portia's life has always been rootless, moving from one European hotel to another, staying out of season and in the cheapest rooms -- rootless with one vital exception: the security of her parents' love. Eddie's rootlessness is of a more dangerous variety, coming of having rejected the life of his still-living parents without creating anything significant of his own to replace it, but it takes Portia time to realize the essential difference between them. The theme is further reflected in one minor character who will become important at the end: the sad Major Brutt, who "had a good war" but has been rattling around since, growing rubber in Malaya, and now staying in a seedy London hotel waiting for something to turn up; it is a touching portrait, albeit a frightening one.

And what will happen to Portia? Will her heart remain dead? Is it indeed HER heart that dies? The book ends on a spiritual and psychological crisis, but it offers no resolution. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but I do not see her life ending in either tragedy or pathos, despite the book's title. Portia's first innocence has been dispelled, certainly, but there is an energy in her, a drive towards the good which I believe will enable her to learn from her experiences and ultimately rise above them. Not the least of the qualities of this admirable edition which I praised at the beginning is the cover painting, which goes far to contractict the implications of the title and declare that this wonderful novel is not, after all, depressing.
Marirne
If you love Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and other British dramas of manners and times in England during the last 100 years or so, you, like me, will gobble up every single descriptive word of this coming of age tale. It is told as a psychological study of Portia, the 16 year-old, somewhat undereducated young high class girl who is sent to live with her very, very, charming but equally chilly distant much older half- brother and his rather cool but somewhat complex childless wife in their Upstairs/Downstairs sort of a toney London home. They don't know quite what to do with her. I love the book but I might just say that some of the chapters are marvelously visual in their details and feel theatrical. Others move along more ponderously. If it has not been done as a film and even if your names are not Merchant, Ivory, or Jhabvala, it would be excellent material for a screenplay or a short episodic TV series. The time is set sometime between the wars.
Malakelv
A strange read, post-Jamesean, complex and terrific.
Umsida
.... tasteful and sensitive readers, who like this book and who regard Elizabeth Bowen as a major writer of the last century. It's only out of deference to those readers that I'm giving this book five stars. Frankly, I disliked it from the first chapter onward until the eighth, when I tossed it aside. To my reading mind, it wallowed in a kind of emotionalism, alternatively tantrums and repressions, that I found banal and sordid. But I'm ready to admit that I don't care for much of post-WW1 British fiction. Here's a passage from "Death of the Heart;" the first speaker is 16-year-old Portia, the central figure in the narrative, and the second is her older half-brother, whith whom she is living:

"I do think history is sad."
"More, shady," said Thomas. "Bunk, misfires and graft from the very start. I can't think why we make such a fuss now: we've go no reason to expect anything better."
"But at one time, weren't people braver?"
"Tougher, and they didn't go around in rings. And also there was a future then. You can't get up any pace when you feel you're right at the edge."

Well now, I'm sure the loss of preeminence in the Anglophone World and the imminent decline of Empire were hard to swallow, but what a weary dreary defeated victor of a nation post-WA1 Britain was! I'm also sure that the urgent portrayal of such a state of mind was Bowen's literary intent, but I can't induce myself to care.

There's also a failure, for me as a reader, of narrative structure and style in this book. It's too deucedly expository. It tells and tells, and never shows. Even the dialogue is expository, and utterly unnatural in speech rhythms. Conversations nearly always get transformed into narrative back-fill. Not even the politest middling upper-class Brit could listen to a three-page uninterrupted explanation of the past, all in complete sentences punctuated with semi-colons, without a grunt of exasperation.

I might confess that I don't like Ian McEwan's novels much, either, and Elizabeth Bowen did everything McEwan tries to do, a half century earlier.
The Death of the Heart download epub
Classics
Author: Elizabeth Bowen
ISBN: 0140016902
Category: Literature & Fiction
Subcategory: Classics
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Books (July 2, 1985)
Pages: 320 pages