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Cold Comfort Farm

Precious Bane, Wuthering Heights, Cold Comfort Farm

rural flora

a novel by S. Gibbons, published in 1932, a humorous parody of contemporary dialect novels of rural life, such as the lurid Precious Bane (1924) by Mary Webb, as well as of Lawrence's philosophies and of Hardyesque pessimism. The cheerful heroine, ‘Flora Poste’, visits her Starkadder cousins (Judith, Amos, Seth, Ezra, Urk, and Caraway) in a dismal Sussex farmhouse under the tyranny of Aunt Ada Doom, ‘the Dominant Grandmother theme’. Guided by The Higher Common Sense, Flora determines to disperse the atmosphere of fatalism and earthy sexuality: ‘Nature is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy.’ The amorous inclinations of ‘Mr Mybug’, a bookish type seeking to prove that Branwell Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights, are dealt with by marriage to the local spinster Rennett. Though the comic contrast between the rural idiocy of the Starkadders and the swish country set that Flora moves amongst now seems rather dated, Cold Comfort Farm has become a minor classic of English literary humour. The ‘finer passages’ are indicated by asterisks for ‘those who are not always sure whether a sentence is literature or whether it is sheer flapdoodle’.

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