Wolf Solent

Wolf Solent



The Pequod Review:

John Cowper Powys's Wolf Solent is less remarkable for its plot (in which the hero, Wolf Solent, returns to his small hometown after teaching in London, and nothing goes according to plan) than its descriptions of the epiphanies of everyday life. There are passages of extraordinary beauty (and not a little strangeness) as Wolf in minute detail describes his wonder and appreciation for the trees, rivers, clouds, graveyards, architecture, and other common objects. The result is something balanced between prose and poetry, recalling Hardy or Wordsworth or even Proust, and with the naive innocence of someone discovering the world for the first time:

It always gave Wolf a peculiar thrill thus to tighten his grip upon his stick, thus to wrap himself more closely in his faded overcoat. Objects of this kind played a queer part in his secret life-illusion. His stick was like a plough-handle, a ship’s runner, a gun, a spade, a sword, a spear. His threadbare overcoat was like a medieval jerkin, like a monk’s habit, like a classic toga! It gave him a primeval delight merely to move one foot in front of the other, merely to prod the ground with his stick, merely to feel the flapping of his coat about his knees, when this mood predominated. It always associated itself with his consciousness of the historic continuity—so incredibly charged with marvels of dreamy fancy—of human beings moving to and fro across the earth. It associated itself, too, with his deep, obstinate quarrel with modern inventions, with modern machinery.


The world is not made of bread and honey…nor of the sweet flesh of girls. This world is made of clouds and of the shadows of clouds. It is made of mental landscapes, porous as air, where men and women are as trees walking, and as reeds shaken by the wind.

Highly recommended.