Saturday, 22 December 2012

Ethel Wilson

Ethel Wilson

"We Have to Sit Opposite"

Two married Canadian women travelling from Salzburg to Munich are forced to share a train carriage with another family.  The rudeness of their carriage-mates, as well as the arrogance and aurhoritarian manner of the man brings out the worst in the women, and they retaliate in a creatively deceptive , and uncharacteristic manner.
Her eyes were tightly closed, but her mind was greatly disturbed.  Why had they permitted themselves to be baited?  She pondered on the collective mentality that occupied the seat near to them (knees almost touching) and its results which now filled the atmosphere of the carriage so unpleasantly.  She had met this mentality before, but had not been closely confined with it, as now.  What of a world in which this mentality might ever become dominant?  Then one would be confined with it without appeal or relief.  The thought was shocking. 
 The Ethel Wilson Prize is awarded to the best work of fiction by a resident of British Columbia, and is named in honour of this author.  I enjoy her style of writing, her evocation of place, and character with few well-chosen words.  I look forward to exploring her longer fiction.

Writing by Ethel Wilson included in the New Canadian Library:

Hetty Dorval (1947)
The Innocent Traveller (1949)
The Equations of Love (two novellas, 1952)
Swamp Angel (1954)
Love and Salt Water (1956)
Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories (short fiction, 1961)

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