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The Horse's Mouth (1944)

by Joyce Cary

Series: First Trilogy (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1121914,041 (3.93)50
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (shaunie)
    shaunie: Cary and Stead's writing styles are quite similar, demanding concentration from the reader but very rewarding.
  2. 00
    Lanark by Alasdair Gray (SnootyBaronet)
  3. 00
    What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies (FrederFrederson)
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» See also 50 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Reading "The Horse's Mouth": hard to get into. I see why it didn't sell much here: too rich a surface, all knots and spurtings of philosophy, but only as emanation from the bumpy colored surface of life, not imposed on it. Plot not spare and obvious, but a spate of anecdotes. Podgy old Sara eternal as Eve, Alison, wife of bath. This old battered hide: needs a brain and a creative verve to make it liveable in, a heater in the ratty house.
  SylviaPlathLibrary | Sep 19, 2021 |
This story is a slice of life of a formerly popular painter. The public has deserted him, the bottle seems a devoted friend, and his current obsession is large wall murals of generously proportioned women. A friend is using him as a house sitter, but, will find a good deal more art in his house than he had when he left. The main character is designed to be charming, and impish (the film cast Alec Guinness in the part), but I was left with a less encouraged view of the bohemian and its role in enlightened British life. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Dec 27, 2019 |
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. ( )
  Michael_Godfrey | 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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To Heneage Ogilvie
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I was walking by the Thames.
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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.

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