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The Young Visiters 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post The Young Visiters
This is quite possibly the most important novel ever written on the topic of Victorian high society, which may explain why it has remained in print continuously since publication in 1919 (the ms was lost for many years until then). Surely nothing else so expertly captures the nuances of their obsession with social forms and romantic love. The plot is a classic love triangle with the characters of Alfred Salteena, Ethel Montacue, and Bernard Clarke. The Prince of Wales also puts in an appearance.

At this point in my review I must diverge to mention that the author was age 9 and the work precedes her discovery of the comma. (Sample sentence: "I shall put some red ruge on my face said Ethel because I am very pale owing to the drains in this house.") This book makes the best argument for phonetic spelling I have ever seen. It is perfectly balanced with a deathless introduction by J. M. Barrie painting a Machiavellian picture of the authoress, whose plump visage presides smugly over the frontispiece.

The Chatto & Windus version I read contains a transcriber's note explaining how several corrections from the original ms in previous editions have been undone for this version. The original title was "The Young Viseters" and the craven bowldlerization to "Visiters" is mercifully almost the last mangling of the author's vishen, er, vision. For all her lack of punctuation, author Daisy Ashford's extensive vocabulary gives an unintended hint at how far education standards have slumped.

You can find it on Project Gutenberg but please look for this edition instead for the wondrous illustrations by Posy Simmonds. The masterwork has since been rendered as a stage play (!), musical (!!), and television movie (!!!).

Jerome K. Jerome, eat yer heart out.

Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:10 am
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