Arnold Bennett, The Old Wives' Tale

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With regard to lasting popularity and critical acclaim, Arnold Bennett’s literary output includes few texts that could rival

The Old Wives’ Tale

. Written during his years in the French capital (1903-1912), the novel constitutes his conscious attempt to “go one better” than Maupassant’s

Une Vie

by offering, as he puts it in the preface, “the life-history of two women instead of only one” (p. 33). Although this mission statement is complicated by the same tongue-in-cheek irony that also marks Bennett’s narrative voice in the text, it still accurately sums up the basic plotline of the novel. The old wives of the title are the two shopkeeper’s daughters, Constance and Sophia Baines. Their divergent mid-life careers in, respectively, provincial England and metropolitan Paris,…

2106 words

Citation: Glitz, Rudolph. "The Old Wives' Tale". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 April 2011 [, accessed 18 June 2024.]

9696 The Old Wives' Tale 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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