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South Wind


Norman Douglas's most widely read work and sole success as a novelist, published in 1917. Nepenthe, the island setting, is a fictional equivalent to Capri, though, in accordance with Douglas's remark that ‘I have taken what liberties I pleased with the place’, much natural detail is taken from other Mediterranean locations he knew well. The narrative concerns twelve days spent on the island by Thomas Heard, a bishop returning to England from his diocese in Africa. During this time his moral rigour yields to various influences, chiefly the mysterious action of the sirocco, the south wind of the title, and his talks with the local residents; the amoral Mr Keith is the principal channel for the exposition of the philosophical hedonism which pervades much of Douglas's writing. Essentially a novel of conversation, its characters' wittily eloquent digressions provide vehicles for Douglas's opinions on a remarkable variety of topics. The candour with which sex is discussed made the book seem scandalous to many at the time of publication. It was staged in London in 1923 in an adaptation by Isabel C. Tippett.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lemn Sissay Biography to Southwold Suffolk