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The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary

The Horse's Mouth (1944)

by Joyce Cary

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9761712,977 (3.96)48

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Gully Jimson must go down in the annals of literature of one of the most compelling first person narrators. With all the self-knowledge of a gnat, he reveals the complexity of a narcissistic, degenerate, lovable genius. Rarely have I so wanted to slap a character around the chops (and I am not violent) while simultaneously hugging him and protecting from his insane, creative, compulsive self. I bought the book when it was on my reading list as an undergrad, for a paper entitled "The Twentieth Century Novel," in 1982, but it somehow wriggled out of my commitments for the year and remained, languishing on my shelves, unread until now. Had I read in in 1982 it would have been one of my favourite books for the year and for my entire undergrad reading programme. The question now is whether, forty years later, and as a much slower reader, I should devour more Cary. The Horse's Mouth is sheer delight. ( )
  zappa | Nov 25, 2018 |
Inscribed February 1950
  AnomalyArchive | Aug 12, 2018 |
Gulley Jimson was quite a character but on the whole I felt that the humor in this book was more of the sort which made me smile inwardly than the sort which make me laugh aloud. ( )
  leslie.98 | Dec 4, 2017 |
That’s it,’ I said. ‘It’s the jaws of death. Look at me. One of the cleverest painters who ever lived. Nobody ever had anything like my dexterity, except Rubens on a good day. I could show you an eye—a woman’s eye, from my brush, that beats anything I’ve ever seen by Rubens. A little miracle of brushwork. And if I hadn’t been lucky I might have spent the rest of my life doing conjuring tricks to please the millionaires, and the professors. But I escaped. God knows how. I fell off the tram. I lost my ticket and my virtue. Why, your ladyship, a lot of my recent stuff is not much better, technically, than any young lady can do after six lessons at a good school. Heavy-handed, stupid looking daubery. Only difference is that it’s about something—it’s an experience, and all this amateur stuff is like farting Annie Laurie through a keyhole. It may be clever but is it worth the trouble? What I say is, why not do some real work, your ladyship? Use your loaf, I mean your brain. Do some thinking. Sit down and ask yourself what’s it all about.’

—The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary

I’ve never read a book so true to the character of a true artist. So scathing of other’s art while damning the whole enterprise and his paltry participation in it. I thoroughly loved this book and its frank appraisal of all things faked, true or, more likely, some combination of the two.

Several pages in, the binding started to crack and I had to tape up the entire side. But tricky, unsticky, recalcitrant page eighty-seven kept popping out the book for the rest of the journey. Like a buzzing fly that’s too savvy or drunk on morning sunlight to land in a suitable place for pestered human hands to swat. And if the physical aspect of this mass market paperback seemed to match the dilapidation of Gulley Jimson’s approach to relationships, art and life, well then, that’s fine by me. This worn-out copy’s got a life all its own. ( )
1 vote ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
A great story of a rascally old painter who harasses his only patron with phone calls and lives in poverty. He is an outstanding artist but socially inept in dealing with people. Cary writes so well, you practically live the story as you read it. This is the only one of the series I kept. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jun 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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To Heneage Ogilvie
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I was walking by the Thames.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322196, Paperback)

The Horse's Mouth, the third and most celebrated volume of Joyce Cary's First Trilogy, is perhaps the finest novel ever written about an artist. Its painter hero, the charming and larcenous Gulley Jimson, has an insatiable genius for creation and a no less remarkable appetite for destruction. Is he a great artist? a has-been? or an exhausted, drunken ne'er-do-well? He is without doubt a visionary, and as he criss-crosses London in search of money and inspiration the world as seen though his eyes appears with a newly outrageous and terrible beauty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:34 -0400)

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