Monday, November 4, 2013

'In Youth is Pleasure' by Denton Welch

Reading books spawns the reading of other books, at the back of this edition of Denton Welch's In Youth is Pleasure, published as part of Oxford Paperbacks - Twentieth Century Classics series there's mentioned three more books that I'd love to now read Walter de La Mare's Memoirs of a Midget, also Rex Warner's Aerodrome and finally through it, (also available in the series was the novel They Were Defeated), the discovery of Rose MacCaulay's, The Pleasure of Ruins, so many books. In Youth is Pleasure was first published in 1945 this edition also comes with an introduction by John Lehmann, a short-ish novel at 154 pages, it follows Orvil Pym during the last throes of his holiday with brothers and father before returning to boarding school, the description on the back of the book describes the tone of Orvil in exacting terms as 'a remarkable mixture of naivety and sophistication'. As we follow him from chapter to chapter, Orvil's inquisitiveness is utterly absorbing  
Orvil spends most of his time wandering off on his own exploring the surrounding countryside of the hotel that they are staying in, often falling into fantastically imagined flights of fantasy which are usually set off by quite dark circumstances. For me one of my favourite chapters, is Orvil's visit to his friend, Constance, who lives with her mother and father, Sir Robert and Lady Winkle, and brother Guy, in their small flat in Hastings. Sir Robert is such a strangely vivid character with a face the complexion of meat, waxed mustache, drinking weak whiskey and soda, and reading Mary Webb. Each progression of the novel is fascinating to read, the meeting and later confession, (which seems to encapsulate Orvil's predicament), with the strange teacher, living (?), in an old hut by the river. This is the second book by Denton Welch I've read, the previous being A Voice Through A Cloud, both books I'm certain will repeatedly reward over many readings, it is quite strange and perplexing that his books haven't reappeared in newer editions.         

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