Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
With a New Introduction by Francine Prose
Commentary by Rebecca West, W. Somerset Maugham,
Virginia Woolf, H. G. Wells, Henry James, and J. B. Priestley
" [Arnold Bennett's] superb Old Wives' Tale, wandering from person to person and from scene to scene, is by far the finest 'long novel' that has been written in English and in the English fashion, in this generation."
H. G. Wells
First published in 1908, The Old Wives' Tale affirms the integrity of ordinary lives as it tells the story of the Baines sistersshy, retiring Constance and defiant, romantic Sophiaover the course of nearly half a century. Bennett traces the sisters' lives from childhood in their father's drapery shop in provincial Bursley, England, during the mid-Victorian era, through their married lives, to the modern industrial age, when they are reunited as old women. The setting moves from the Five Towns of Staffordshire to exotic and cosmopolitan Paris, while the action moves from the subdued domestic routine of the Baines household to the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
"Like Wordsworth, [Arnold Bennett] has triumphed over the habitual; he has not let it disguise the particle of beauty from him."Rebecca West
ARNOLD BENNETT (1867-1931) looked to Flaubert, Maupassant, and Balzac for inspiration in the fashioning of his own acutely realistic novels, including his masterpiece, The Old Wives' Tale (1908). His first novel was A Man from the North (1898), and he is also known for his Clayhanger trilogy (1910-16).
The author of thirteen books offiction, FRANCINE PROSE is a
fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers.