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Book Title: The Loving Spirit|
The author of the book: Daphne du Maurier
ISBN 13: 9781844080939
Date of issue: March 4th 2004
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 895 KB
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Recently I came across a documentary of Daphne Du Maurier called ‘The make believe world of Daphne Du Maurier’ where she says that she always believed that she lived in a world of make believe. To her, Cornwall where she was born was alive with things and characters that didn’t exist. And something about the way she describes Plyn that made the magical realism seem to almost come alive for me.
Plyn doesn’t exist, but Ferryside does. Where Daphne spent her summer holidays. A place that inspired her to pen down her first novel. The loving spirit. From the very start, her love for the Cornish countryside is so apparent. Wide open spaces, the sprawling blue skies overhead, the tiny swaying sails in the distance: I could almost feel the grass bend and the stalks break under my bare feet. Such is the elegance and dexterity of her prose. And even though her voice here isn’t as refined as in her later novels, especially Rebecca, it is strong with a whiff of the greatness it will ultimately mould into.
The central point of the story is Janet Coombe: the eye of the storm, the point of origin of the centrifugal force that pulls in and binds the four generations of the ship building family of Coombe. The inspiration for this character was found in a shipwreck named Jane Slade that fascinated the young Daphne and the matriarch’s footprint can be found resonating throughout the book, even after her death. She is the loving spirit.
Janet Coombe is a young girl more fascinated with the sea than with the wordly obessions of her contemporaries and community. She is a free spirit who longs to merge her soul with the sea but ends up conforming to social designs and marries her cousin. But her spirit, reflecting the mighty waves hidden just under the surface of the calm ripples, never fades away. Even through the birth of her children, her spirit remains wild and ultimately it takes the form of her son, Joseph. Joseph embodies the spirit of Janet and being a man succumbs to his love for the uncharted waters. It is in him, that Janet finds her respite. And after her death, it is through him and the ship that she lives on. Like a benevolent ghost and a tempestuous spirit.
The brushstrokes of feminism paint deftly. From the matriarch who pines for the sea but finds the cover, the shield of being a woman in countryside Plyn invisible iron bars and heavy shackles that drag her landward, to her progeny who deftly lifts the veil to come into her own.
There is an element of duality. The land versus the sea. The old versus the new. That which is known and familiar and comfortable and binding versus the ever shifting and unreliable and the sly. The story reflects the changes in Cornwall from the arrival of the Industrial Revolution on its shores. The fear of the unknown, the need for the comfort of a familiar embrace and finally the slow and gradual shift into a new age.
“Alas-the countless links are strong
That binds us to our clay,
The loving spirit lingers long,
And would not pass away.”
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Read information about the authorIf Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Few writers have created more magical and mysterious places than Jamaica Inn and Manderley, buildings invested with a rich character that gives them a memorable life of their own.
In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles a fairy tale. Born into a family with a rich artistic and historical background, the daughter of a famous actor-manager, she was indulged as a child and grew up enjoying enormous freedom from financial and parental restraint. She spent her youth sailing boats, travelling on the Continent with friends, and writing stories. A prestigious publishing house accepted her first novel when she was in her early twenties, and its publication brought her not only fame but the attentions of a handsome soldier, Major (later Lieutenant-General Sir) Frederick Browning, whom she married.
Her subsequent novels became bestsellers, earning her enormous wealth and fame. While Alfred Hitchcock's film based upon her novel proceeded to make her one of the best-known authors in the world, she enjoyed the life of a fairy princess in a mansion in Cornwall called Menabilly, which served as the model for Manderley in Rebecca.
Daphne du Maurier was obsessed with the past. She intensively researched the lives of Francis and Anthony Bacon, the history of Cornwall, the Regency period, and nineteenth-century France and England, Above all, however, she was obsessed with her own family history, which she chronicled in 'Gerald: a Portrait', a biography of her father; 'The du Mauriers', a study of her family which focused on her grandfather, George du Maurier, the novelist and illustrator for Punch; 'The Glassblowers', a novel based upon the lives of her du Maurier ancestors; and 'Growing Pains', an autobiography that ignores nearly 50 years of her life in favour of the joyful and more romantic period of her youth. Daphne du Maurier can best be understood in terms of her remarkable and paradoxical family, the ghosts which haunted her life and fiction.
While contemporary writers were dealing critically with such subjects as the war, alienation, religion, poverty, Marxism, psychology and art, and experimenting with new techniques such as the stream of consciousness, du Maurier produced 'old-fashioned' novels with straightforward narratives that appealed to a popular audience's love or fantasy, adventure, sexuality and mystery. At an early age, she recognised that her readership was comprised principally of women, and she cultivated their loyal following through several decades by embodying their desires and dreams in her novels and short stories.
In some of her novels, however, she went beyond the technique of the formulaic romance to achieve a powerful psychological realism reflecting her intense feelings about her father, and to a lesser degree, her mother. This vision, which underlies 'Julius', 'Rebecca' and 'The Parasites', is that of an author overwhelmed by the memory of her father's commanding presence. In 'Julius' and 'The Parasites,' for example, she introduces the image of a domineering but deadly father and the daring subject of incest.
In 'Rebecca', on the other hand, du Maurier fuses psychological realism with a sophisticated version of the Cinderella story. The nameless heroine has been saved from a life of drudgery by marrying a handsome, wealthy aristocrat, but unlike the Prince in Cinderella, Maxim de Winter is old enough to be the narrator's father. The narrator thus must do battle with The Other Woman - the dead Rebecca and her witch-like surrogate, Mrs Danvers - to win the love of her husband and father-figure.
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