Saturday 7 May 2022 — Wood and Stone, Chapters 8 & 9 – a discussion led by Chris Thomas
Venue: The Old Fire Engine House, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Commencing 11.00am.
We are delighted to announce our first meeting in 2022 will be in-person. We are glad to be able to return to one of our favourite venues. All are welcome. The event is free except for refreshments and optional lunch which may be taken in the restaurant. If you would like to attend the meeting please notify Hon Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wood and Stone was JCP’s first published novel and dedicated with the author’s “devoted admiration” to Thomas Hardy. The novel was published by Arnold Shaw in USA in 1915 and deals essentially with the relationship between two brothers James and Luke Anderson. In his high-sounding Preface JCP points to the main themes of the novel: the struggle between the “well-constituted” and the “ill-constituted”, the conflict between power and sacrifice, and between pride and love. These themes coalesce in Chapter 8 “The Mythology of Sacrifice”, and Chapter 9 “The Mythology of Power”. Here is JCP at a formative stage of his career as a novelist with all his faults, capability and potentiality. The setting of the novel is the Somerset village of Nevilton overshadowed by two hills, Leo’s Hill and Nevilton Mount, which dominate the story with their elemental characteristics and their Christian and pagan resonances. Nevilton is recognisably Montacute. The two brothers are recognisably JCP and Llewelyn. In the novel JCP vividly evokes the locations of his childhood memory and the place from where his father used to point out to him Glastonbury Tor. But Nevilton is not envisioned here as some sylvan idyll from the past – there are dark forces at work. JCP declares Nevilton exudes an oppressive sense “of something depressing and deep and treacherous” which “lurks ever in the background.” At our conference this year we plan to visit Montacute and organise a guided walk to St Michael’s Hill, Hedgecock Woods and Ham Hill offering an opportunity to visit the scenes of Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 of Wood and Stone walking in the footsteps of the Reverend Hugh Clavering.
Members may wish to read reports of a previous discussion of Wood and Stone, on the occasion of its centenary year, in Newsletter 85, July 2015. Wood and Stone was reprinted by Village Press in 1974. A digitised copy can also be found online at the Internet Archive
Chris Thomas, Hon Secretary
Historic maps of the Montacute area dating from the early 1900s, which enable a closer identification of scenes in the novel, can be found online at the National Library of Scotland.