Enid Bagnold Harriet Colby - Essay

Harriet Colby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In no sense a fantasy, ["National Velvet"] is still the kind of book which it is best not to try to resist; it should be allowed to cast its spell with the full consent of the reader. Rightly and high-handedly allowing no room for quibbles as to whether the events described were probable, the author merely gives them a lucid actuality—saying take it or leave it, here it is. Wise readers will take it and like it….

Velvet does not walk or run; she trots or canters. Her love for horses has the huge single-minded concentration of genius, revealing itself in a passionate concern for the most minute and technical details of care and equipment. It is a fever and a dream….

So fierce a love as Velvet's demands something more substantial to feed on than daydreams and paper horses; Miss Bagnold's obliging world provides it in the shape of the wild and restless Piebald…. On the day of the raffle [for Piebald] she goes to deliver meat to the squire, and something of her consuming passion communicates itself to the tired old man. He shows her his stables, asks for paper and pencil and Velvet's signature, retires behind the corner of the barn and blows his brains out, leaving Velvet heir to five horses. Sick with excitement, she goes home to find she has won Piebald.

But this is too much, you say; this is fantastic. It is only the beginning, and as final argument against all improbability there is the...

(The entire section is 533 words.)