English Music

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From the prize-winning author of First Light, Chatterton, and Hawksmoor - a dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving novel about the intricate ties between fathers and sons, between inheritance and culture, and between our understanding of the past and our grasp of the present. In post-World War I London, on the stage of the out-of-the-way Chemical Theatre, Clement Harcombe and his young, motherless son, Timothy, perform acts of spiritual healing, their visionary skills lifting the weight of despair and failure...
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PAPERBACK New 0345376137 Excellent condition, paperback 1992, no marks, superb cover and dj, read it.

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0345376137 Only 1 copy left! Clean, unmarked copy. In great shape! I can send expedited rate if you chose; otherwise it will promptly be sent via media rate. Got any ... questions? Email me; I'm happy to help! Read more Show Less

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Overview

From the prize-winning author of First Light, Chatterton, and Hawksmoor - a dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving novel about the intricate ties between fathers and sons, between inheritance and culture, and between our understanding of the past and our grasp of the present. In post-World War I London, on the stage of the out-of-the-way Chemical Theatre, Clement Harcombe and his young, motherless son, Timothy, perform acts of spiritual healing, their visionary skills lifting the weight of despair and failure from the shoulders of their small band of followers. For Timothy, a boy with remarkable psychic gifts, it is a thrilling apprenticeship, a wonderful life with an adored father. But in the eyes of the larger world, it is a wayward existence with a suspect parent. And when Timothy is abruptly removed from his father's side, from the familiar twilit world of phantoms and ghosts, and thrust into the simple world of his grandparents' home in the country, he is not too young to feel 'bereft of his past'. Yet nothing can remove him from the realm of his visions. And as he passes from a difficult childhood into a troubled adulthood - his father slipping in and out of his life - it is this other, private world that provides him with his only certainty. In his visions - unanticipated and wholly enveloping - Timothy is drawn into the creations of Charles Dickens and William Blake, Thomas Malory and Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner. Accompanied by Merlin or Miss Havisham, William Byrd or William Hogarth, Crusoe's Friday or Wonderland's Alice, Timothy is swept across time and history. And as his mysterious journeys begin to illuminate the ideas that have shaped them, Timothy comes to discern the power of the writer over his characters, the composer over what is heard, the painter over what is perceived - learns, finally, to hear the 'English music' his father described to him as a child. It is the workings of the
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ackroyd's rich imagination and literary inventiveness have never been showcased so deliberately and provocatively as in this impassioned paean to English culture -- but not with complete success. Perhaps the book's liability is the tone of lassitude and melancholy that permeates protagonist Tim Harcombe's narrative of his strange life with his healer/magician father during the days following WW I in London. Tim's recollections alternate with third-person accounts of his visions, dreams in which he encounters some of the dead masters of English literature, music and art, and enters into their works and worlds.

In this fashion, Tim comprehends the intellectual heritage that binds Britons through the centuries, and also the cyclical nature of human existence, the inheritance of family characteristics from generation to generation. Ackroyd's rendering of Tim's fugue states ranges from the charming and whimsical to the heavily didactic. In the best of them, he captures the surreal quality of dreams while cleverly adopting the style of the writers to whom he pays homage: Dickens, Blake (he has written biographies of both), Lewis Carroll, Arthur Conan Doyle.

In other cases, where he tries to convey the essential characteristic of music (Henry Purcell) or of art (Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable) the conceit can wear thin. The artifice of the plot device -- Tim must fall into his trances at regular intervals -- becomes too predictable, and the constant repetition of the theme of cultural heritage somewhat overwrought. Yet the novel remains intriguing, and certainly enlightening.

Library Journal
Outside the hall in 1920s London where Timothy Harcombe works nightly with his father, a sign reads, 'Clement Harcombe. Medium and Healer.' But it is Timothy who seems to have the greater power. Periodically falling into dreamlike states, he enters into 'English music' -- here signifying all the great accomplishments of English culture -- where he encounters various literary figures, becomes part of a Gainsborough painting, and is instructed in music by William Byrd. Fearful of his son's gift, the father ships him off to his maternal grandparents in the country. But ultimately Timothy rejoins his father -- for 'everyone belongs somewhere' -- and discovers the true extent of his miraculous powers.

Ackroyd suggests that we all belong to culture. His book is both charming and ambitious, but it is more successful in concept than in execution. --Barbara Hoffert

Library Journal
Outside the hall in 1920s London where Timothy Harcombe works nightly with his father, a sign reads, 'Clement Harcombe. Medium and Healer.' But it is Timothy who seems to have the greater power. Periodically falling into dreamlike states, he enters into 'English music' -- here signifying all the great accomplishments of English culture -- where he encounters various literary figures, becomes part of a Gainsborough painting, and is instructed in music by William Byrd. Fearful of his son's gift, the father ships him off to his maternal grandparents in the country. But ultimately Timothy rejoins his father -- for 'everyone belongs somewhere' -- and discovers the true extent of his miraculous powers.

Ackroyd suggests that we all belong to culture. His book is both charming and ambitious, but it is more successful in concept than in execution. --Barbara Hoffert

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345376138
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/14/1994
  • Pages: 416

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