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Monday, June 25, 2018

Pointed Roofs (1915) by Dorothy Richardson

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Dorothy Richardson, whose Pointed Roofs was the first "stream of consciousness" novel- beating Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by a year. 
Book Review (Book 1/13 Pilgrimage series)
Pointed Roofs (1915)
by Dorothy Richardson

  Pointed Roofs is book one in her thirteen book Pilgrimage series, basically a life long roman a clef covering the experience of Miriam Henderson- in Pointed Roofs, Henderson moves to Germany to work as an English teacher/chaperon in a girls school.   Richardson's claim to fame is that the first usage of the term "stream of consciousness" as applied to a novel was a description of this book, making Pointed Roofs the first stream of consciousness novel, by definition.  In case you were wondering, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce was published in 1916.

  Status as literary trailblazer aside, Pointed Roofs most resembles something written by D.H. Lawrence or Virginia Woolf, down to the reference points- the sending of an English girl abroad to Germany in the time before World War I is a very common plot point/characteristic in the English literature of this time period.  Miriam Henderson, the Richardson stand in, is that spectacular in that regard.  Compare her, for example, to the Lady Chatterly of Lady Chatterley's Lover, who boasts of being deflowered at a German summer camp.  Hendersons' adventures are plain to the point of banal, which I suppose is on purpose, but it doesn't make for scinelatting reading in 2018- the library copy I checked out was the original American edition from the mid 1920's- sure sign that there is a total lack of audience in this country.  Call her a forgotten trailblazer. 

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