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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Francis Stuart

Two favourite bad sentences from Francis Stuart's Black List Section H, a gripping semi-fictionalised account of the author's crimes against the English language. First, the literary chambermaid:

At home again, H started filling blue copybooks, while sitting on the side of the bed, so that the maid had to wait till midday before making it, rapidly in pencil.

And second, gettin' it awn:

She leaned forward and pressed her mouth to his, thus providing the impetus for him to loosen his trousers with his free hand which, in turn, as, he imagined a series of impulses are set up along a line of wagons by an impact at one end, impelled her to pull up her dress.

[Quotations end]

That's one accident I'd like to see someone try out on Claims Direct. 'Rear-ended by a line of wagons, my client was impelled to pull up her dress...'

1 comment:

sean lysaght said...

I did my MA thesis on Stuart's post-war novels, at a time when I was fascinated by the less obvious, to the virtual exclusion of all else. Throughout, I felt an unease at the plaudits circulating about FS's work, and I was in denial about the undoubted longueurs in his novels. I would still keep Memorial on my shelf, as its atmosphere connects with the current of Baader Meinhof radicalism in Germany in the early seventies. (It is also, incidentally, very like Grass's novel Local Anaesthetic, of the same period.) I was startled, a few years ago, by Colm Toibin's detailed, commanding encomium to Stuart in the LRB; and, more recently, appalled at Roy Foster's account, in Yeats Vol. II, of the way FS treated Iseult during their marriage.