Cold Comfort Farm

Flora Poste, the heroine of Stella Gibbons’s Cold Comfort Farm (1932), is a bright, flippant, unsentimental, bossy, manipulative, brisk young woman who descends upon a nest of her rustic cousins at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. The Starkadders are unkempt, amorous, ebullient, uneducated, temperamental wild, poetical, beautiful, territorial, and brutish. They say things like:

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Absurdism, Books

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are, above all, concerned with the problem of meaning. A seven year old girl tumbles underground through a rabbit hole where she meets querulous creatures who deploy nit-picking logic and idle philosophical banter; she runs a race, fails to drink tea, is danced in a qaudrille, plays croquet, gives evidence in court and negotiates a fiendish chess game (where the living pieces are ignorant of the game’s plan). As befits a book for children there are many death jokes and beheadings. The two novels are reputed, with the Bible and Shakespeare, to be the most quoted texts in the English language. What is the meaning of this nonsense? Continue reading