Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Horse's Mouth

The picaresque novel has a noble tradition reaching back to Don Quixote. In his novel, The Horse's Mouth, Joyce Cary created a picaresque hero for the twentieth century. Gulley Jimson is the epitome of a life force and his creativity in life as well as art carries him forward and wins the reader's heart. Cary's theme is one of the creative artist pitted against authority of all kinds. The novel opens with opens with Jimson, newly released from prison, reveling in his freedom admiring the clouds in the sky and the murky waters of the Thames. The adventures begin as Jimson caroms from one episode to another leading to his ultimate creation, a great mural that will be the culmination of his art. The combination of exalting prose (Cary is after all, Irish by birth) and a wonderful story make this book a true pleasure to read. You might want to check out the wonderful 1958 film version starring Sir Alec Guinness (above).

The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary. Time Reading Program edition, Time, Inc. New York, 1965.

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