Arnold Bennett: The Old Wives' Tale

(2214 words)

With regard to lasting popularity and critical acclaim, Arnold Bennett’s literary output includes few texts that could rival The Old Wives’ Tale. Written during his years in the French capital (1903-1912), the novel constitutes his conscious attempt to “go one better” than Maupassant’s Une Vie by offering, as he puts it in the preface, “the life-history of two women instead of only one” (p. 33). Although this mission statement is complicated by the same tongue-in-cheek irony that also marks Bennett’s narrative voice in the text, it still accurately sums up the basic plotline of the novel. The old wives of the title are the two shopkeeper’s daughters, Constance and …

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Glitz, Rudolph. "The Old Wives' Tale". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 April 2011
[, accessed 04 July 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Family Sagas/ Chronicles