Friday, 1 May 2020

Weep Not My Wanton: Selected Short Stories

A.E. Coppard
Turnpike Books

A.E. Coppards short stories capture a sensual rural England combining poetic description of its landscape with characters tied to a more elemental life, who experience passions of love, loss and regret. Drawing on traditional folklore and ballads, at a time when the countryside s traditional culture was dying out, Coppards stories have a uniquely melancholic tone, an understanding of human nature and the secret desires of women with an individual vision of England.

Until a month or so ago I'd never heard of Coppard and then along came Mark Valentine's newest collection essays extolling the quiet joys of those authors who have fallen by the wayside and those never quite found the path in the first place.  There was much in the book that intrigued but none more so than A.E. Coppard.  Mark's description was just so enticing that I put in a quick order for the only currently available collection of Coppard's work.

Coppard was apparently much admired by, amongst others, Algernon Blackwood and the stories in this collection show they shared an imagination defined by landscape but for Coppard this is governed by an arcadian vision of life.  His stories tell of a deep understanding of the quirks and foibles of humanity and celebrate their interactions and their comunications without ever feeling the need to judge or moralise.  They are elegantly formed and display a real mastery of the short story form.

On the whole I must admit to not being as entirely smitten with the book as I'd hoped to be.  The stories are beautifully written and enjoyable enough but the ones featured here aren't really entirely to my taste being for the most part bereft of the oddities I look for in a book. I know though that he had a bit of a penchant for the strange and the one truly weird tale here, 'Adam and Eve and Pinch Me', with its wandering spirit along with the strength of his writing has me positively craving for a copy of a collection of his stranger stories.

Buy it here - Weep Not My Wanton: Selected Short Stories

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