The Pomp of the Lavilettes, volume 1

Cover of book The Pomp of the Lavilettes, volume 1
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 tosee me at Atlantic City (I was on a visit to the United States at thetime), and made a gallant offer for the English, American and colonialbook and serial rights. I felt that some day I could get the book backunder my 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.I thought it ought to be worked out and recorded, and particularly asthe time 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 editionof my 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 than anyof the previous works, slight as the volume is. It holds the samerelation to 'The Right of Way' that 'The Trail of the Sword' holds to'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, an avantcoureur. 'The Trail of the Sword, A Ladder of Swords, Donovan Pasha andThe Pomp of the Lavilettes', are all very short novels, not exceeding inany case sixty thousand words, while the novels dealing in a larger waywith the same material--the same people and environment, with the samemise-en-scene, were each of them at least one hundred and forty thousandwords in length, or over two and a half times as long. I do not say thatthis is a system which I devised; but it was, from the first, the methodI pursued instinctively; on the basis that dealing with a smallersubject--with what one might call a genre picture first, I should getwell into my field, and acquire greater familiarity with my materialthan 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'.For this book, however, it might be said, that all the last twentyyears was a preparation, since the scenes were scenes in which I hadlived and moved, and in

The Pomp of the Lavilettes, volume 1
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