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Father and Son – Edmund Gosse



Posted May 6, 2016 by

Father and Son – Edmund Gosse – 1907

Posted by guillermo maynez on 8/9/2014, 13:24:38

“Father and Son”, by Edmund Gosse, has been the great discovery of this year. I understand that it is little remembered nowadays, although it was a big editorial success in Great Britain right after it was first published in 1907. Gosse was a leading man of letters in the first decades of the XX Century, mentor to Siegfried Sassoon and many others. His history is very peculiar: his parents were members and leaders of a radical Evangelist Christian sect known as the Plymouth Brethren. He grew up first in Islington, London, and then in a remote village in Devonshire, isolated from all contact with other children until he was 11. His mother died when he was 7 and his father brought him up in that distant village, absolutely immersed in religious life of the strictest kind. This book is the story of his gradual and painful estrangement from his beloved father, but it is told in so humorous a way that I found myself positively laughing at various instances of the wonderful narration. In short, it is a marvelous bildungsroman which takes the reader through a way of life now practically defunct in the UK (although not necessarily in the US), a life more backwards than any in the Middle Ages, where the light of reason has a lot of trouble penetrating. Coming up with a tale of estrangement in so funny a way is no mean feature. Highly recommended.


Posted by Joffre on 9/9/2014, 14:38:30, in reply to “Father and Son”

I read F&S and enjoyed it when I was in graduate school. I remember especially the scene where he tries praying to a chair. Why did he try it? I can no longer remember?


Posted by guillermo maynez on 11/9/2014, 12:18:20, in reply to “Re: Father and Son”

Joffre: the child Gosse, hearing that worshipping a different god would attract the rage and vengeance of God, tries his luck when he’s home alone. He puts a chair over a table and, with beating heart, kneels in front of it and prays: “O Chair”, etc. Nothing happens…


Edmund Gosse 1   Father and Son

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