Loving (1945)

  • Oddvar Holmesland
Part of the Studies in 20th Century Literature book series (STCL)


Compared to the previously examined novels, Loving is more consistently committed to Green’s theory on ‘non-representational’ art. Stokes observes in a statistical survey of Green’s various techniques that in Loving, Nothing and Doting there is no ‘formal character exposition’ nor ‘informal character revelation’. This means that Green does not interpret or record his characters’ thoughts and impressions. In his other novels, by contrast, this method accounts for between 15 and 21 per cent of the text.1 In Loving, then, Green has largely abandoned the ‘inner’ view and presents his characters through the disengagement of a mere observer. A greater degree of objectivity is sought through the de-emphasizing of description in favour of dialogue. Non-representational dialogue implies, to Green, a kind of communication which provides the oblique and elusive quality he experiences in real life. Rosamond Lehmann captures the essential nature of the dialogue in Loving; there is

on the Servants’ Hall’s side the class language of circumlocution, ambiguity, rhetorical flourish, of devious sly approach to the end in view; all the verbal taboos and traditional tags and saws; on the drawing-room side the habit of incoherence, tentativeness, over-emphasis, the obsessive modish portmanteau words. Rarely do any of them speak out with certainty and clarity, even to their own.2


Final Scene Symbolic Sense Dancing Girl Gold Crown Fairy Story 
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  1. 4.
    Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (London, 1965) pp. 48, 57.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Dorothy Van Ghent, The English Novel: Form and Function (London, 1953) p. 93.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Earle Labor, ‘Henry Green’s Web of Loving’, Critique, 4 (Autumn–Winter 1960–1) p. 31.Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    Bruce Bassoff, Toward Loving: The Poetics of the Novel and the Practice of Henry Green (Columbia, SC, 1975) p. 153.Google Scholar

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© Oddvar Holmesland 1986

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  • Oddvar Holmesland

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