G(erald) B(asil) Edwards Eric Korn - Essay

Eric Korn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is] the work of a self-exile, magnetically drawn to and held from his homeland, like Joyce Dublin, like a large molecule against a membrane.

Ebenezer's book is the roughly chronological, only incidentally historical or autobiographical recollections of an octogenerian bachelor curmudgeon….

Edwards's great success is in the forging of a character and a diction idiosyncratic in the extreme, but flexible enough for a variety of effects, and so easy on the ear that we don't mind too much what he is saying, or how he goes on (though we do a bit). Ebenezer's speech is a tidied version of Guernsey English, with a few words—too few really—of the Norman-French patois whose use, like that of much that is small and homely and good, has diminished during the period of the book….

There is lots of local colour, but the Chapel and the picturesque drunks and the clogs and the praise of local cuisine … should not make us see the novel as the kind of Sea-Green was my Valley; though admittedly Edwards's tone resembles Richard Llewellyn's with a gruff intertidal rumble instead of the ingratiating South-Walian lilt. Certainly he memorializes a time past and a place vanished; but he has metropolitan virtues and anxieties….

There are enough quarrels over inheritance and marriage contracts to remind us that Normandy is on the horizon. There is only...

(The entire section is 448 words.)