#review Slightly Foxed. Trouble at the Convent, Kate Tyte. Autumn issue 2017 @FoxedQuarterly

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In the Autumn issue no. 55, Kate Tyte provides us with an insightful review into The Devils of Loudun (1952) by Alduous Huxley. As a footnote to the article, the reader is given a short bio of Kate, who worked an archivist for over ten years, some of which were at the College of Surgeons and the Natural History Museum, London.

The Devils of Loudun is about the possession of a convent of nuns, “thanks to the alleged witchcraft of a Catholic priest with a sex life that reads like Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  It includes exorcisms, torture and Byzantine political manoeuvrings by an untouchable elite.” Of course, the story is based on a so-called possession – nuns with a taste for the famous, can just as often be led into notoriety or the infamous as much as the next person. In this case, it is all for the greater good … the town’s need to be rid of their detestable priest, who is handsome, clever, pugnacious and loathsome. He is Father Urbain Grandier, and he presides over the town of Loudun in about 1617.

In this review, Kate cleverly points out the nuances in Huxley’s story, how he controls the reader, the themes the story investigates. She also sells the story to the potential reader with a taste of how it relates to the 21st century. We are drawn to history, we try to learn lessons. And yet we keep repeating ourselves. “Huxley says: The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different …”

Kate has reviewed the Vintage edition of this novel, which you can buy here.

Vintage. Pb. 400pp. £9.99. ISBN 9780099477761

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