Saturday 27 November 2021 — Discussion of the Deleted Chapters of Wolf Solent
Led by Kevin Taylor
This event will be HELD ONLINE by ZOOM at 15:00 GMT (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30).
- If any member wishes to join the Zoom discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.
These six chapters, which were cut from the original edition of Wolf Solent, have never appeared in print. They have been published by the Society in July 2021 as a special suppplement to The Powys Journal Volume XXXI, which is distributed free to all members of the Society, and available on JSTOR.
On 15 July 1928 John Cowper Powys’ prospective publisher Max Schuster wrote to him, “I think that the power and beauty of the book & the cumulative effect will be measurably enhanced by reducing it to something like 175,000 or 200,000 words”. Powys, desperate for money, rapidly deleted (with the help of Phyllis Playter) 89,000 words from the first draft of the novel that would become Wolf Solent: six whole chapters were condensed into one (Ch 19, ‘Wine’: 19,250 words in the novel as published). In the process we lost a quantity of fine creative writing that has never until now been published. Consider the following description of Wolf’s delightfully quirky solipsism:
As he walked he was still conscious that various passers-by stared at him with a quizzical hostility. He had noticed this phenomenon before and it always seemed to occur when his mind was agitated and his nerve jangled. One young man … a butcher’s boy or some other tradesman’s assistant … gave him a look of such impudent derision that he completely lost control of himself. As he met the youth’s eyes, he opened his mouth as wide as he could stretch it, and walked past the astonished young man with the air of a gaping imbecile.
It was not the first time that he had followed this method; but on this occasion he almost dislocated his jaw. His visage must have resembled one of those traditional classic masks of antique tragedy. “There’s your money’s worth!” he said to himself as he moved on.
On 27 November 2021 we will have a chance to discuss for the first time a number of passages of this nature, reluctantly deleted by JCP from his first draft of Wolf Solent, which never saw the light of day until their publication in The Powys Journal in the summer of 2021.