William Mayne MARY CADOGAN and PATRICIA CRAIG - Essay

MARY CADOGAN and PATRICIA CRAIG

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

William Mayne has devised a kind of dialogue in which the character speaks principally to himself, to clarify some facet of his personality for his own benefit. His children are surprisingly articulate but leave much unsaid. The possibilities for ambiguity, for private interpretation, are endless here, but the device is used also to project unequivocal feelings and uncertainties…. In Earthfasts … the author's concern with psychological effect is everywhere apparent: he has got inside the characters who are confronted with a variety of phenomena, in order to express more explicitly their efforts to extend conventional definitions to accommodate their experiences of the supernatural…. The author's explanations are entirely convincing; his reordering of "natural" events has in it a matter-of-fact quality and controlled tension which combine authoritatively. Everything is worked into this book; legend, superstition, a "scientific approach", psychological detail, a surface interest, a powerful evocation of scene; and everything works, because it is given just the right degree of emphasis. The characters are driven to extremes of feeling and experience (one even "dies") but there is no note of hysteria, no sense even of make-believe. (pp. 356-57)

Mary Cadogan and Patricia Craig, in their You're a Brick, Angela! A New Look at Girls' Fiction from 1839 to 1975 (© Mary Cadogan and Patricia Craig 1976), Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1976.