- Author: Butts, Mary
- Binding: Clothbound MJ
- Pages: 384
- Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/2"
- Pub. Year: 1992
- ISBN: 0-929701-17-8
- In Stock: Yes
Preface by Paul West.
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Afterword by Barbara Wagstaff.
These two novels together form an important work of modernist writing. Armed with Madness introduces a group of youthful but disillusioned characters who live a bohemian existence on a strange quest when an ancient chalice is found at the bottom of a well. Then five years later in Death of Felicity Taverner they are caught up in a mystery that hinges on the destruction of the Dorset wilderness.
Armed with Madness introduces Scylla Taverner, her lover Picus, her brother Felix, and their closely knit circle of English, Russian and American friends, all in the vigor of youth and overflowing with passionate intensity. Their discovery of an ancient chalice at the bottom of a rustic well ignites a fury of conflicting emotion, and propels them on an adventure of mythic proportion -- a virtual re-enactment of the Grail Quest. Many of these same characters reappear in Death of Felicity Taverner as they mourn the death of their friend and cousin Felicity. Was her death accidental? A suicide? Murder? As they try to unravel the mystery, Felicity's opportunistic widower unveils his plans to savage their beloved Cornwall wilderness with a scheme for a vacation-home development. Their grief over Felicity thereby turns toward vengeance, and their struggle to preserve their lands, turns ultimately, inevitably, to a violent climax.
[Reviews of the original publication of Armed with Madness]:
"Crazy as they are, Miss Butts' young people are a fascinating 'bunch.' The book is brilliant and subtle ... [and] might be described as Henry James in the idiom of 1928."
[Reviews of the original publication of Death of Felicity Taverner]:
"This is an intellectual shocker of the first order. It is more than that, however. There is a tremulous beauty in all the descriptions of landscape ... and the memory of the dead woman hangs about the pages like a perfume."
-- London Sunday Times
She drank with Hemingway at Les Deux Magots; Virgil Thompson courted her; among her best friends she counted H.D. and Bryher and corresponded at length with Charles Williams, but Virginia Woolf hated her perfume. She lived more outrageously than Jean Rhys and was considered a better writer than Katherine Mansfield...
- The Taverner Novels -- Armed with Madness and Death of Felicity Taverner (paper) - These two novels form an important unified work by the last great lost English Modernist.