I'm becoming rather intrigued by the works of Charles Langbridge Morgan (1894-1958) who was evidently very popular during his lifetime, but has somehow dropped below the radar of modern critics.
The Wikipedia article mentions quite a bit about his background, which was shaped by having parents who moved from Wales to Australia, and the fact that he started out as a poet. But alas, it says virtually nothing about his several novels and books of essays.
I've only read one of his novels so far, and several of his essays. But the novel, The Judge's Story, seemed very well written and he tied up all the ends, which I like. The story is the tale, as I mentioned on the Recently Finished thread, of to men, one of whom wants to get a hold on, control, the other. An interrelated theme is a debt and how the one man does a certain amount of manipulation to make this too the subject of his control. The retired judge tries to extricate himself from this sticky web.
Some of Morgan's later novels involve WWII, during which Morgan fought in France, helping British prisoners to escape.
His essays, collected in two volumes entitled Reflections in a Mirror (1944, 1946) cover a range of subjects, from bird song to leisure, British attitudes to France and Europe, and literary ones about Pascal, Hardy, Turgenev, Symbolism, Emily Bront?, Landor, Tolstoy, Blunden, Verlaine, and even, curiously, the Horst Wessel song, this last one first published in 1944.
I think it is the slight mystical quality of what he writes that interests me. One unspeakably silly comment that is referred to in the Wikipedia article about Morgan says that:
Note that he says "the sense of humour by which we are ruled". What he is berating is not humour in general but shallow humour, which slaps down everything noble and grand for a good laugh. He'd have quite a bit to say about some of the half-hour shows on British TV nowadays, some half-century after his death."...he was often criticised for excessive seriousness, and is now rather neglected; he once claimed that the "sense of humour by which we are ruled avoids emotion and vision and grandeur of spirit as a weevil avoids the sun."
Charles Morgan was also Chairman of International PEN from 1953 until his death and wrote columns in various publications.
Literary reputations can be very quirky things, and I always wonder how it is that some writers are revived and re-examined, while others almost sink without trace.