The Pomp of the Lavilettes, Complete

Cover of book The Pomp of the Lavilettes, Complete
Categories: Fiction » Action & Adventure

I believe that 'The Pomp of the Lavilettes' has elements which justifyconsideration. Its original appearance was, however, not made underwholly favourable conditions. It is the only book of mine which


I eversold outright. This was in 1896. Mr. Lamson, of Messrs. Lamson & Wolffe,energetic and enterprising young publishers of Boston, came to see me atAtlantic City (I was on a visit to the United States at the time), andmade a gallant offer for the English, American and colonial book andserial rights. I felt that some day I could get the book back undermy control if I so desired, while the chances of the book making animmediate phenomenal sale were not great. There is something in thenature of a story which determines its popularity. I knew that 'TheSeats of the Mighty' and 'The Right of Way' would have a great sale, andafter they were written I said as much to my publishers. There was theelement of general appeal in the narratives and the characters. Withoutdetracting from the character-drawing, the characters, or the story in'The Pomp of the Lavilettes', I was convinced that the book would notmake the universal appeal. Yet I should have written the story, evenif it had been destined only to have a hundred readers. It had to bewritten. I wanted to write what was in me, and that invasion of a littlesecluded French-Canadian society by a ne'er-do-well of the over-seaaristocracy had a psychological interest, which I could not resist. Ithought it ought to be worked out and recorded, and particularly as thetime chosen--1837--marked a large collision between the British andthe French interests in French Canada, or rather of French politicalinterests and the narrow administrative prejudices and nepotism of theBritish executive in Quebec.It is a satisfaction to include this book in a definitive edition ofmy works, for I think that, so far as it goes, it is truthfullycharacteristic of French life in Canada, that its pictures are faithful,and that the character-drawing represents a closer observation thanany of the previous works, slight as the volume is. It holds the samerelation to 'The Right of Way' that 'The Trail of the Sword' holdsto 'The Seats of the Mighty', that 'A Ladder of Swords' holds to 'TheBattle of the Strong', that 'Donovan Pasha' holds to 'The Weavers'.Instinctively, and, as I believe, naturally, I gave to each ambitious,and--so far as conception goes--to each important novel of mine, anavant coureur. 'The Trail of the Sword, A Ladder of Swords, DonovanPasha and The Pomp of the Lavilettes', are all very short novels, notexceeding in any case sixty thousand words, while the novels dealing ina larger way with the same material--the same people and environment,with the same mise-en-scene, were each of them at least one hundred andforty thousand words in length, or over two and a half times as long. Ido not say that this is a system which I devised; but it was, from thefirst, the method I pursued instinctively; on the basis that dealingwith a smaller subject--with what one might call a genre picture first,I should get well into my field, and acquire greater familiarity with mymaterial than I should have if I attempted the larger work at once.This is not to say that the smaller work was immature. On the contrary,I believe that at least these shorter works are quite mature in theirtreatment and in their workmanship and design. Naturally, however, theymade less demand on all one's resources, they were narrower in scope andless complicated, than the longer works, like 'The Seats of the Mighty',which made heavier call upon the capacities of one's art. The onlyoccasion on which I have not preceded a very long novel of life in a newfield, by a very short one, is in the writing of 'The Judgment House'. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

The Pomp of the Lavilettes, Complete
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