Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
The Corner That Held Them
by Sylvia Townsend Warner, introduction by Claire Harman
In The Corner That Held Them, [Warner] has observed and blended the nice trivialities, the emotional upsets and the occasional spiritual reflections of the some fourteenth-century nuns.... The form of the novel is outwardly as ramshackle as the convent buildings...but this is a license that may be allowed to the charm, the wit and the speculation which make the book very remarkable.
—The Times Literary Supplement
Sylvia Townsend Warner’s The Corner That Held Them strikes one as a masterpiece. As an act of imagined history—the life of a fenland nunnery in the fourteenth century—this novel has few rivals. Warner conveys the strange ordinariness of a distant yet immediate past with utter authority. But her chronicle of lives under pressure, at once visionary and petty, makes for a fiction of extreme density. No one after Hardy has interwoven more closely the sheer feel of material things, of weather, of light across water or foliage, with the inward landscapes of character. The prose precisely matches the theme and settings: it is at once bone-spare and of a rich, troubling opacity. A classic, whose resonance deepens inside the reader in proportion to its austere, luminous discretion. Also, as it happens, a work of high, frequent comedy.
—George Steiner, The Times Literary Supplement
A spellbinding piece of historical fiction—spare, luminous.... One starts rereading as soon as one has reached the last page.
—The Sunday Times
A magnificent recreation of the life of a medieval convent.—The Daily Telegraph