An Engagement of Convenience, A Novel

An Engagement of Convenience, A Novel

by Louis Zangwill

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The hero is an artist, a man of birth and means, and ultimately, so we understand, a genius; even though his great canvas becomes at the Academy the picture of the year.

He is beloved by the uncertain-aged daughter of wealthy lower middle-class neighbors, comfortable, benevolent, unconscious Philistines; beloved without expectations and intentions, and from afar. The artist loses his money, and his pictures, which were desired of galleries and of dealers when he stood in no need of an income, begin forthwith to be returned to him, and even friendly editors withdraw their commissions.

By such a crisis we could easily be persuaded of his genius, but the author attributes his ill-fortune to his aristocratic connections, combined with a "facile imitation of other people's styles", not a promising prelude to the masterpiece he has already begun, by which he is to become famous. But inconsistencies of the sort count for little in his career. He is reduced to destitution—it might have been starvation but for his sister—when the father of the lady who loves him stumbles into the mud outside his studio door, is helped inside, admires everything there, including the masterpiece, and finally commissions the artist to paint his daughter.

From that moment not only does the fortune of the hero change, but his art at once acquires greatness, and he celebrates his gratitude- to his patron by the engagement. of convenience to the good man's daughter which gives its title to the book. The convenience leads him, unhappily, to the house of a lady with whom he had earlier been in love, who reproaches him for not having declared his affection before her marriage to the man of whom, however, to her great relief, an accident has rid her. One may leave confidently the concluding moves in so conventional a drama to the reader's prescience; but it is not in the least to its conventions that one objects. It is the convention invoked to no purpose, the commonplace which communicates the triviality and not the tenderness of the common lot. In this plain theme, as imagination might have seen it, as—to name but one master of the commonplace—Mary Wilkins might have told it, are all the deeps needed in any drama of the feelings. Miss Wilkins indeed, and in Russia an even greater artist, Anton Chekhov, still unknown in this country, have made moving drama of much slighter material. But their interests differ from those of Louis Zangwill, and it is from a world in which he only thinks he moves that they obtain their effects.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940016316901
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 02/22/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 493 KB

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