Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Less Than Angels

Finished Less Than Angels, Barbara Pym's fourth novel, published in 1955. This time spinsters and clergy take a back seat to anthropologists. It's a wonderfully ironic work, where students and professors of anthropology, who spend their days studying the social culture of other societies, constantly find themselves unsure of how to act or respond in their own. Mildred Lathbury of Excellent Women is again mentioned as being married to anthropologist Everard Bone.

Pym is always a delight, "It is often supposed that those who live and work in academic circles are above the petty disputes that vex the rest of us, but it does sometimes seem as if the exalted nature of their work makes it necessary for them to descend occasionally and to refresh themselves, as it were, by squabbling about trivialities." Hence the author as anthropologist.

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