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John Cowper Powys

(1872—1963) novelist and writer


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(1872–1963),

brother of Llewelyn and Theodore Powys, was brought up in the Dorset–Somerset countryside which was to become of great importance in his later writing. He became a prolific writer of poetry and of essays on philosophy and religion, and produced a remarkable Autobiography (1934), but he is remembered for his novels which include Wood and Stone (1915, NY; 1917, London), Rodmoor (1916), and Ducdame (1925). His first major novel was Wolf Solent (1929), a crowded work set in the West Country. A Glastonbury Romance (1932, NY; 1933, London), his best‐known novel, is a work on a huge scale, in which Glastonbury and its legends exert a supernatural influence on the life of the town—on the religious revival led by Johnny Geard, on the hard commercial interests of Phil Crow, on the Communist workers, and on the complex loves, both sacred and sexual, of the town's inhabitants. Weymouth Sands (1934, NY) is set against a sombre background of Portland and the sea; the human struggle centres on Jobber, his love for Perdita and his hatred of Dog Cattistock, and on the final relinquishing of dream in favour of the possible. Maiden Castle (1936, NY; 1937, London), set in Dorchester, follows the interlocking loves of several couples, no longer young. Most of the later novels, written after Powys had settled in Wales, share an extravagance of subject and style and strong elements of the supernatural. They include Morwyn (1937); Owen Glendower (1940, NY; 1941, London), a historical novel; Porius (1951); and Atlantis (1954), containing Powys's most extreme flights of imagination, in which Odysseus, returned from Troy, sets out again to discover the continent of America, where he settles.

Subjects: Literature.


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Works by John Cowper Powys

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