L. H. Myers Criticism - Essay

D. W. Harding (essay date 1934)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Work of L. H. Myers," in Scrutiny, Vol. III, No. 1, June, 1934, pp. 44-63.

[In the following excerpt, Harding asserts that Myers's character development, plotting, and prose are more subtle in The Orissers, The Near and the Far, and Prince Jali than in The Clio.]

In all four of his novels [The Orissers, The Clio, The Near and the Far, and Prince Jali] L. H. Myers is concerned with the theme of individual development in a civilized society, a society in which leisure and a tradition of culture make possible the practised intelligence and sensibility which he takes to be necessary conditions of development. He doesn't imply of...

(The entire section is 7579 words.)

Mark Van Doren (essay date 1934?)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Connoisseur of Character," in The Private Reader: Selected Articles & Reviews, Henry Holt and Company, 1942, pp. 208-10.

[In the following excerpt, Van Doren praises the philosophical and psychological sophistication of The Root and the Flower.]

[The Root and the Flower] contains three long parts of the presumably endless work Mr. Myers is prepared to write about certain imaginary lives which were lived in sixteenth-century India during the reign of the Emperor Akbar. By ordinary standards The Near and the Far, Prince Jali, and Rajah Amar are superb. But Mr. Myers makes it clear in his preface that he does not want to be judged by...

(The entire section is 726 words.)

John Crowe Ransom (essay date 1936)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fiction Harvest," in The Southern Review, Louisiana State University, Vol. II, No. 2, Autumn, 1936, pp. 399-418.

[In the following excerpt, Ransom praises the emotional power of Strange Glory but contends that Myers's overly abstract prose impedes his attempt to evoke a credible mysticism.]

Mr. L. H. Myers, British author of the highly regarded trilogy, The Root and the Flower, writes with very great distinction but [is] … in search of a religion. [In Strange Glory] Mr. Myers' … writing is fastidious and economical …, yet his emotional effects are disproportionately massive. The narrative pattern would stand out from any array of...

(The entire section is 755 words.)

L. P. Hartley (essay date 1943)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to The Near and the Far, Containing "The Root and the Flower" & "The Pool of Vishnu" by L. H. Myers, 1943. Reprint by Jonathan Cape, 1956, pp. iv-ix.

[In the following essay, Hartley asserts that Myers's endorsement of communism rendered The Pool of Vishnu more reductive and didactic than The Near and the Far, Prince Jali, and Rajah Amar.]

L. H. Myers's tetralogy, The Near and the Far, is a unique work: there is nothing like it in the field of English fiction. Nor does it markedly resemble, except in general style and in having a philosophic intention, any of his other works. It comes nearest, perhaps, to The...

(The entire section is 2430 words.)

Orville Prescott (essay date 1952)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Four Great Novels," in In My Opinion: An Inquiry into the Contemporary Novel, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1952, pp. 235-48.

[In the following excerpt, Prescott praises the philosophical seriousness and the stylistic accessibility of The Root and the Flower.]

[L. H. Myers' The Root and the Flower] is a novel of contemplation instead of action, a philosophical novel instead of an historical one. Its nobility lies in the ethical doctrine which is its conclusion and in the idealism of the quest for that doctrine which runs through all of the long work.

The Root and the Flower is an omnibus volume which contains four separate...

(The entire section is 851 words.)

L. A. G. Strong (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Notes on Four Contemporary Writers," in Personal Remarks, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1953, pp. 193-209.

[In the following excerpt, Strong offers a brief survey of Myers's career, commending the maturity and insight that, in his view, distinguish The Root and the Flower.]

It may seem odd to call contemporary a writer who is dead and whose most important work dealt with a life immeasurably remote from ours. Yet the true test of contemporaneity is that a book shall be timeless, and therefore as true today as it was when it was written and when it was imagined. Provided it comes from a deep enough level, it will deal with what is essential and permanent in...

(The entire section is 1905 words.)

G. H. Bantock (essay date 1956)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Strange Glory, " in L. H. Myers: A Critical Study, University College and Jonathan Cape, 1956, pp. 16-27.

[In the following excerpt, Bantock maintains that while Strange Glory demonstrates Myers's interest in both mysticism and social reform, the novelist explores the former more thoroughly in this work.]

Strange Glory is the shortest of Myers's books. Coming between The Root and the Flower and The Pool of Vishnu, it is the most romantic of his works and reveals more clearly, perhaps, than any of his others the strain of mysticism in him. It deals more explicitly with those transcendental standards by which our...

(The entire section is 5391 words.)

R. P. Blackmur (essay date 1958)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Notes on the Novel: 1936," in The Expense of Greatness, Peter Smith, 1958, 176-98.

[In the following excerpt, Blackmur criticizes Myers for expounding rather than dramatizing his themes in The Root and the Flower.]

[L. H. Myers' trilogy, The Root and the Flower,] addressed avowedly to readers in the modern predicament, states its theme of the moral sensibility on the spiritual plane, and the twin theme of character-discrimination on the social plane—in terms conscientiously removed as far as possible from the social, economic, political, and religious predicament of his audience. The action takes place in sixteenth-century India and its movement is...

(The entire section is 689 words.)

B. S. Gupta (essay date 1971)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "L. H. Myers's Treatment of Buddhism in The Near and the Far," in Revue des langues vivantes, Vol. XXXVII, No. 1, 1971, pp. 64-74.

[In the following essay, Gupta praises the accurate and sympathetic understanding of Buddhism evident in Myers's The Near and the Far.]

Rajah Amar, one of the major characters in The Near and the Far, is a Buddhist, while Sita, his wife is a Christian. Critics of Myers have recognised that it is their negation and affirmation of world and life respectively that marks the difference between the Eastern and the Western views of life. But no notice has been taken of Myers's handling of the Buddhist tradition itself. The...

(The entire section is 4425 words.)

Robert Grant (essay date 1975)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Art versus Ideology: The Case of L. H. Myers," in The Cambridge Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 3, 1975, pp. 214-40.

[In the following excerpt, Grant attempts to explain how Myers's novels, widely acclaimed during the thirties, have become unfamiliar to most contemporary readers.]

To most modern readers the novelist L. H. Myers is little more than a name. The novels are unread; and apart from a well-known dictum about the 'spiritual vulgarity' of the age, his sole memorials are by other hands: a handful of reviews, the odd footnote, a few brief if appreciative mentions in literary histories, and a couple of short books. Yet he was a serious novelist of the inter-war...

(The entire section is 10793 words.)