Maurice Guest by Henry Handel Richardson
(Capuchin Classics)

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One noon in 189-, a young man stood in front of the new Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and watched the neat, grass-laid square, until then white and silent in the sunshine, grow dark with many figures. The public rehearsal of the weekly concert was just over, and, from the half light of the warm-coloured hall, which for more than two hours had held them secluded, some hundreds of people hastened, with renewed anticipation, towards sunlight and street sounds. There was a medley of tongues, for many nationalities were represented in the crowd that surged through the ground-floor and out of the glass doors, and much noisy ado, for the majority was made up of young people, at an age that enjoys the sound of its own voice. In black, diverging lines they poured through the heavy swinging doors, which flapped ceaselessly to and fro, never quite closing, always opening afresh, and on descending the shallow steps, they told off into groups, where all talked at once, with lively gesticulation. A few faces had the strained look that indicates the conscientious listener; but most of these young musicians were under the influence of a stimulant more potent than wine, which manifested itself in a nervous garrulity and a nervous mirth. It was a blowy day in early spring. Round white masses of cloud moved lightly across a deep blue sky, and the trees, still thin and naked, bent their heads and shook their branches, as if to elude the gambols of a boisterous playfellow. The sun shone vividly, with restored power, and though the clouds sometimes passed over his very face, the shadows only lasted for a moment, and each returning radiance seemed brighter than the one before. In the pure breath of the wind, as it gustily swept the earth, was a promise of things vernal, of the tender beauties of a coming spring; but there was still a keen, delightful freshness in the air, a vague reminder of frosty starlights and serene white snow--the untrodden snow of deserted, moon-lit streets--that quickened the blood, and sent a craving for movement through the veins. The people who trod the broad, clean roads and the paths of the wood walked with a spring in their steps; voices were light and high, and each breath that was drawn increased the sense of buoyancy, of undiluted satisfaction. With these bursts of golden sunshine, so other than the pallid gleamings of the winter, came a fresh impulse to life; and the most insensible was dimly conscious how much had to be made up for, how much lived into such a day

About Henry Handel Richardson

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An expatriate writer, Henry Handel Richardson wrote one of Australia's classic works, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1917--1929). The three novels that make up this trilogy, Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925), and Ultima Thule (1929), unfold the saga of Richard Mahony, a character loosely based on Richardson's physician-father. The trilogy is often labeled---not always in a complimentary manner---as "naturalistic," a literary form not currently popular. In recent years, however, readers have begun to approach it in different ways. For example, feminist critics have called attention to the novels' strong women, who provide the strength for the new nation. The trilogy has also been examined as an incisive psychological study of failure revealed through the complex character of Mahony. The novels are so rich in texture that they can also be read as late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social history, depicting as they do day-to-day life in the goldmining town of Balaraat and the colonial city of Melbourne. Richardson was born in Melbourne, but after her father's death her nearly destitute mother took up the duties of postmistress in a country town. At the age of 13, Richardson became a boarder at the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne. The experiences there she later used as the basis for The Getting of Wisdom (1910), which was turned into a highly successful film that helped to revive interest in Richardson's work. After graduating from this preparatory school, she received a musical scholarship to provide for further training in Leipzig; her mother had hopes of a career for her daughter as a concert pianist. Later Richardson would use her experiences in Germany as the basis of her first novel, Maurice Guest (1908). Instead of pursuing a concert career, however, Richardson married a Scottish professor of German and settled in London, remaining there and in the English countryside until her death. She returned to Australia only once or twice after her departure as a young girl; but in her imagination she must have gone back many times. In recognition of her literary achievements, Richardson was awarded the Australian Gold Medal and the King George Jubilee Medal.
Published May 11, 2012 by W.W. Norton & Co., inc. 566 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Religion & Spirituality, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Maurice Guest

The Guardian

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One hundred years ago, on August 27 1908, Henry Handel Richardson published her first novel, Maurice Guest, a study of erotic obsession and the nature of genius which continues to have a strange effect on all those fortunate enough to read it.

Aug 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Maurice Guest (Capuchin Class...

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