Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 442 pages of information about Father Payne.

“Not a bit of it!” said Father Payne, “and these are the people we want to hear about, because they represent the fine flower of civilisation.  If a man has a delightful friend like that, always animated, fresh, humorous, petulant, original, he couldn’t do better than observe him, keep scraps of his talk, record scenes where he took a leading part, get the impression down.  It may come to nothing, of course, but it may also come to something worth more than a thousand twaddling novels.  The immense use of it—­if one must think about the use—­is that such a life might really show commonplace and ordinary people how to handle the simplest materials of life with zest and delicacy.  Novels don’t really do that—­they only make people want to escape from middle-class conditions, what everyone is the better for seeing is not how life might conceivably be handled, but how it actually has been handled, freshly and distinctly, by someone in a commonplace milieu.  Life isn’t a bit romantic, but it is devilish interesting.  It doesn’t go as you want it to go.  Sometimes it lags, sometimes it dances; and horrible things happen, often most unexpectedly.  In the novel, everything has to be rounded off and led up to, and you never get a notion of the inconsequence of life.  The interest of life is not what happens, but how it affects people, how they meet it, how they fly from it:  the relief of a biography is that you haven’t got to invent your setting and your character—­all that is done for you:  you have just got to select the characteristic things, and not to blur the things that you would have wished otherwise.  For God’s sake, let us get at the truth in books, and not use them as screens to keep the fire off, or as things to distract one from the depressing facts in one’s bank-book.  I welcome all this output of novels, because it at least shows that people are interested in life, and trying to shape it.  But I don’t want romance, and I don’t want ugly and sensational realism either.  That is only romance in another shape.  I want real men and women—­not from an autobiographical point of view, because that is generally romantic too—­but from the point of view of the friends to whom they showed themselves frankly and naturally, and without that infernal reticence which is not either reverence or chivalry, but simply an inability to face the truth,—­which is the direct influence of the spirit of evil.  If one of my young men turns out a good biography of an interesting person, however ineffective he was, I shall not have lived in vain.  For, mind this—­very few people’s performances are worth remembering, while very many people’s personalities are.”



Project Gutenberg
Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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