The Flying Goat

The Flying Goat

by H. E. Bates

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Overview

The Flying Goat (Jonathan Cape, 1939) features sixteen diverse stories from slapstick sketches to portraits of marital tension; one Uncle Silas tale; and three that hark back to Bates's boyhood roots.

'A Funny Thing' is an escalating bragging match between Uncle Silas and Uncle Cosmos. Cosmos is modelled on Bates's paternal grandfather, Charles Lawrence, who was "known about Rushden as a dapper and dashing figure who spent his holidays in the south of France, where he reputedly had a number of mistresses". A television adaptation starring Albert Finney was aired in 2003.

In a cautionary tale, ever-relevant today, 'Shot Actress – Full Story' is an account of the death of a former actress, and of the damaging effect of rumours. In commenting on the public's obsession with scandal and journalism, the tale reflects Bates's early newspaper work at the Northamptonshire Chronicle as well as a wider social commentary.

The Times Literary Supplement singled out 'The White Pony' and 'The Ox' as "faultless things, jewels as luminous and as finely cut as any Mr. Bates has turned out. In each of them the evocative strength of his countryside pictures is joined to a still and poignant emotion that seems to project a background of universal experience for a particular sorrow."

The bonus story 'Pensioned Off' is a sensitive and touching tale of a Latin teacher approaching the end of his career, reflecting on his obsolete methods of trying to teach a dying language. The story is based in part on Bates's own Latin teacher who he described as "extremely fat", so in a sweetly comic moment we hear how he fasts every Thursday so as not to become obese. Published in the New Adelphi (1929), and not republished since.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781448214969
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 330
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

H. E. Bates was born in 1905 in the shoe-making town of Rushden, Northamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving school, he worked as a reporter and as a clerk in a leather warehouse.

Many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands, particularly his native Northamptonshire, where he spent many hours wandering the countryside. His first novel, The Two Sisters (1926) was published by Jonathan Cape when he was just twenty. Many critically acclaimed novels and collections of short stories followed.

During WWII he was commissioned into the RAF solely to write short stories, which were published under the pseudonym “Flying Officer X”. His first financial success was Fair Stood the Wind for France (1944), followed by two novels about Burma, The Purple Plain (1947) and The Jacaranda Tree (1949) and one set in India, The Scarlet Sword (1950). Other well-known novels include Love for Lydia (1952) and The Feast of July (1954).

His most popular creation was the Larkin family which featured in five novels beginning with The Darling Buds of May in 1958. The later television adaptation was a huge success. Many other stories were adapted for the screen, the most renowned being The Purple Plain (1947) starring Gregory Peck, and The Triple Echo (1970) with Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed.

H. E. Bates married in 1931, had four children and lived most of his life in a converted granary near Charing in Kent. He was awarded the CBE in 1973, and died in 1974.

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