THE THOUGHT by L.P. Hartley

“…counting the minutes that elapsed between one visitation of the Thought and the next.”


This is a highly spiritual work that inchoately reminds me of a cross between a churchly ghost story by M.R. James (many of which I happen to be currently re-reading HERE) and L.P. Hartley’s own ‘Facial Justice’ that I reviewed ten years ago HERE.
An articulated but involuntary or rogueishly autonomous Thought is as if played by an independent LP upon the gramophone in ‘The Cotillon’ and it is here magnified in a Mr Greenstream whose settled siesta of a life is disrupted by it, and he fails to remove the Thought even by making his mind blank as it ought to be to quench it, until he finds by an uncharacteristic turning in his daily walk to what he sees as Hartley’s cat, “A whiskered church”…
“…the monumental inscriptions, black lettering on white marble or white lettering on black marble.”
‘He prays for what he didn’t ought.’ – says one of the local likely lads who are set to taunt Mr G’s manic strident praying in the church that helps quench the Thought.
But an older lad says: ‘you chaps can go and blank yourselves. There’s nothing else for you to do. I’m off.’
“…the six bell-ropes swayed in all directions lashing each other and casting fantastic shadows.”
And a gargoyle has fallen, after Mr G has been away from the church, till now again he comes to give confession he hopes…
“The storm had split it but the odd thing was that the two halves, instead of being splintered and separated by their fall, lay intact on the sodden grass within a few inches of each other.”
leaving a naked spout aloft like a snake.
Inside the church, the red hot stove like a drum freezes him instead…
I cannot rid myself now of the Thought of this story. I trust you will fare less ill.

Like an itch in the brain that you can’t scratch because of the solid gargoyle around it?


Full context of this review:


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2 responses to “THE THOUGHT by L.P. Hartley

  1. Cross-referenced with THE DEAD SMILE by F. Marion Crawford:

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