» » The Horse's Mouth

Download The Horse's Mouth epub

by Joyce Cary

Joyce Cary wrote two trilogies, or triptychs as he later preferred to call them. The first comprises: Herself Surprised, To Be a Pilgrim and The Horse's Mouth. The Horse's Mouth is a portrait of an artistic temperament. Its principal character, Gulley Gimson, is an impoverished painter who scorns conventional good behaviour. He may be a bad citizen, but he is a good artist, so wholly preoccupied with his art that he is willing to endure any privation for its sake. Such is his contempt for orthodox mores, he takes a delight in cocking a snook at them. For him there is only one morality: to be a painter. 'Mr Joyce Cary is an important and exciting writer; there's no doubt about that. To use Tennyson's phrase, he is a Lord of Language ... if you like rich writing full of gusto and accurate original character drawing, you will get it from The Horse's Mouth.' John Betjeman, Daily Herald
Download The Horse's Mouth epub
ISBN: 0060800461
ISBN13: 978-0060800468
Category: Education
Subcategory: Schools & Teaching
Author: Joyce Cary
Language: English
Publisher: Harper & Row Publishers (January 1975)
ePUB size: 1103 kb
FB2 size: 1276 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 279
Other Formats: docx mbr lit txt

This book was given to me over 30 years ago, when I married an Artist. A fellow artist felt this book would help me live my life with an artist. He was right, it takes a lot of flexibility and strange hours to live with an artist, and this book tells you why, and helps you in understanding the mind set of an Artist and how he thinks. It's a fantastic book, and a joy to re-read. I highly recommend this to anyone living with an artist. I've been married for over 36 years, and nothing will stop us now.
The first thing to say about this "lost masterpiece" is that it's quite funny. --- It's quite funny. --- The second thing to say is that the pre-WWII London scene presented here by our narrator, the crafty, dodgy 67 year old artist Gulley Jimson, is that it's full of despair. --- It's full of despair. --- But there exists no despair at which Jimson, our vitalist anti-hero, can't smile wryly or cock a snook, even as his artistic visions fall into disaster in his attempts at their execution. When we meet him, he's just getting out of the nick for some smash-and-grab and when he departs he's off to hospital in a "police ambulance."

Despite the novel's essentially comic nature, it's comedy with a bite; and the reader may feel a bit unsettled during and after the reading of it. The despair is quite real and quite lyrically described, with a painter's eye, one could say:

"And I went out to get room for my grief. Thank God, it was a high sky on Greenbank. Darker than I expected....Sun was in the bank. Streak of salmon below. Salmon trout above soaking into wash blue. River whirling along so fast that its skin was pulled into wrinkles like silk dragged over the floor. Shot silk. Fresh breeze off the eyot. Sharp as spring frost. Ruffling under the silk-like muscles in a nervous horse. Ruffling under my grief like ice and hot daggers."

Explaining what this book is "about" though, in a deeper sense - and there is a deeper sense - is well-nigh impossible. This difficulty arises from the fact that Jimson quotes Blake's prophetic and abstruse poems throughout the book. Indeed, they make up almost a fifth of the entire novel and seem to be the only thing in which Jimson staunchly believes. All this is to say that if you have a comprehensive understanding of Blake's mythology - Be clear though that Blake and Jimson emphatically do NOT regard it as mythology - you might understand this book. Any poor soul that's delved into Blake's arcana and tried to make sense of them knows full well what a bootless task this endeavour is. The only thing one can say with any degree of certainty is that Jimson, along with Blake, is the artist who thinks that the world can go hang. Art is the only reality.

Thus Jimson cadges, robs, nearly starves himself, murders (inadvertently, of course) in order to follow his pursuit. Be all this as it may, when all is said and done, it is Cary's gift with dialogue and Jimson's sharp wit that catch the reader and linger. Further, the book, for all its madcap drolleries, has a twilit shroud hanging over it. The reader knows from the first chapter that Jimson will die soon, and as Jimson says:

"Old men when they begin to hear the last trumpet, on the morning breeze, often have a kind of absent-minded smile; like people listening."

It's no small task to wipe that smile off one's face after finishing this book.
One of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I don't know how Modern Library missed this one. Anthony Burgess regarded it as one of the greatest novels of the modern era and so did many other writers and critics. Joyce Cary is a master of colloquial British dialogue and the novel is both uproariously funny and metaphysically profound. Best of all are the unforgettable characters...,,Gulley Jonson, Sara Monday, et, al, Easily the finest novel about a painter and his art and one of my favorites. Easily in my top ten novels of all time
This is pure genius! LOVED Gulley, and his attitude and especially his crazy antics! Uproariously funny! What a pleasure!
A Classic novel beautifully written. Marvelous characters and realistic settings inhabited by an elderly painter who follows his art and heart. Arrived on time and in excellent condition.
I have loved this book for about 60 years and re-read it regularly. I also love the movie starring Alec Guinness who wrote the screenplay.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, simoultaneously amused, puzzled and fascinated by the wierd shenanigans of Gulley Jimson's life style; his irresponsible, at times reprehensible behavior, his flights of imagination, and the way others relate to him.
You have to have the right sense of humor for this book but it is worth it. A classic that has stood the test of time.