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Post Info TOPIC: The early Poldark novels versus the later ones - did WG achieve what he set out to do ?


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The early Poldark novels versus the later ones - did WG achieve what he set out to do ?
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Poldarkgirl, I absolutely agree with you, we should enjoy his novels for what they are, a superbly and sympathetically written story dealing with imperfect but lovable characters who really come alive in our imagination.  Personally, I choose to believe WG's account of how and why he wrote the novels as documented in his memoirs and also in Poldark's Cornwall.  As I said before, I'm only too happy he did create this wonderful Poldark world.  

SOMETHING I HEARD TODAY WHICH I THOUGHT WAS APPLICABLE TO THIS THREAD:-

The Triangle .....not a great shape .....it has sharp edges which can hurt people.



-- Edited by namparagirl on Friday 31st of July 2009 01:06:46 PM

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Date: Jul 30 9:06 PM, 2009
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Forgive me but I don't believe that WG's primary intention in writing the Poldark saga was simply based on an 18C love triangle.  I believe he set out to write an historical novel about 18C Cornwall and the lives of the people that inhabited that period.  A very important period in English history for all classes of people in England and in particular Cornwall (the largest supplier of tin in the world, tin and copper being one of the most important commodities of that period) - a story so vast it could not be contained in one book.  We should just enjoy his novels for what they are;  beautifully written stories of 18C Cornish people whom we love and can identify with.  This is why all the characters have shades of good and not so good in them and sometimes shock us with what they do and how they feel.  In other words they are human and alive and this is why we love them so and can't get enough of reading about their lives.   

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Now there are nice emmets and not so nice ones like the ones Tholly's link describes, and you Char are one of the nicest kinds of emmet, the kind that the Cornish will welcome with open arms.

So now, back to this love threesome triangle thingy,
_________________________________________________________________

Char Nanfan said:

BUT going back to Thollys original question in that Did WG achieve what he set out to do? I would say if the original idea was writing about a lurve triangle specifically involving Ross, Francis and Elizabeth then my answer would be no, he didnt . Elizabeth may have realised she made a mistake in marrying Francis but i dont believe she would ever have left him and We, the reader were never privvy to her emotions until the visit she made to Ross just after Demelza seduced Ross. So assuming a love triangle exists only  where the outcome is unknown and any pairing is possible , this one did not fit those rules!
__________________________________________________________________

I agree that Elizabeth would never have left Francis and much prefer the way WG wrote it in the book as opposed to the way it was filmed in the TV series, but my understanding of the rules of a love triangle is where the trio are all aware or become aware of each other's presence, for instance when Elizabeth and Francis began to see each other in a romantic way, they were both aware of a third party, ie, Ross, whose presence, although not physical at the time, was none the less there in their minds.  When he turned up in the flesh, he was the third person in the trio and when Francis and Elizabeth married,  both the mental picture and physical presence of Ross as the third person, was a constantly threat, especially for Francis who had always suffered from low self esteem and considered that he was really Elizabeth's second choice.  Although Ross would never have tried to break up the marriage and Elizabeth would not have left Francis, they were all emotionally linked together, forming the ill-fated trio from which stemmed jealousy,  discontent and regret for what might have been.  When Elizabeth admitted to Ross that she felt she had made a mistake in marrying Francis it stirred up old pain and frustrated emotions, re-ignited old passions and anger, keeping the triangle prominent in their emotional and day to day lives.

In the same way for Demelza, although she was married to Ross who, without a doubt, loved her passionately, the image of Elizabeth and the knowledge that Ross still had feelings for her, would have been the third party in the love triangle between them.  It doesn't have to be a physical thing, where there are three people, two of whom love the third and battle to win that person to the exclusion of the other.  A love triangle can go on in the imagination without ever reaching a physical conclusion.  This is why Ross went off to Parliament, because he couldn't handle the thought that another man had entered the arena of his marriage, whether there had been any physical contact or not, it was the thought of what might happen which caused the damage and the love triangle continued well after Hughs death.  

I think that when WG set out to write Ross Poldark, his original idea was maybe to write the love story centred around three people, all involved in this love triangle.  But very quickly I believe he realised that he had far too much material in his head to limit the writing to these three, so the story continued to evolve moving from one ill fated love story to another, much happier one, but one nonetheless following his original theme involving a love triangle, which then evolved as the story progressed throughout the book.  So with this thought in my mind, I would say that he didn't achieve what he set out to do originally, in as much as the first few books didn't reach a conclusion, or happy ending between the original three love triangle characters.  I believe he just recognised that there was much more he needed to write so he let his imagination take control allowing the story to emerge and flow organically throughout each of the subsequent books.

I suppose the other kind of love triangle can be where a couple fall in love and the one of the partners has an affair but continues to have a sexual relationship with the original partner who might be aware of the affair, but loves the adulterer so much they hope that if they continue in the relationship as normal, the adulterous partner will get tired of the third party and the affair will fizzle out.  This is a very physical, tangible thing as opposed to the kind that WG wrote about which existed mainly in the minds and emotions of his characters.

Well that's a bit of a jumble of ideas, anyone else got a point of view? wink




-- Edited by namparagirl on Thursday 30th of July 2009 08:28:23 PM

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Date: Jul 27 1:48 PM, 2009
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Im afraid i shall soon be a Grockel and an Emmet and i cant wait!! Cornwall on saturday, non onset of swine flu permitting.....

BUT going back to Thollys original question in that Did WG achieve what he set out to do? I would say if the original idea was writing about a lurve triangle specifically involving Ross, Francis and Elizabeth then my answer would be no, he didnt . Elizabeth may have realised she made a mistake in marrying Francis but i dont believe she would ever have left him and We, the reader were never privvy to her emotions until the visit she made to Ross just after Demelza seduced Ross. So assuming a love triangle exists only  where the outcome is unknown and any pairing is possible , this one did not fit those rules! There was never the remotest chance that Elizabeth would ever leave Francis to be with Ross and really until he married Demleza, she didnt really display any strong desire to win his affections back. Francis , of course , suspected Elizabeth really loved Ross but again we dont find this out till much later in the books so apart fromhis jealous outburst after Geoffrey charles christening ,which in fact he is wrong about, we are not aware of any threat felt by Francis over Ross and Elizabeth.
What do you think guys? or is my idea of a triangle different from yours?



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biggrin So sorry sir, where I come from it's grockles! 

And ............ after reading your link, which incidentally didn't work, I know just how they feel 'cos we have just launched into silly season ourselves with grockles everywhere, even unscrewing and taking away the sign to my house.  They think nothing of walking up driveways and recently I had one knocking on my door asking if he could buy the boat in my drive and boy! was he persistent.  

As some 'cool and momentarily popular modern comic' recently said on some TV show I saw a clip of recently, go to any sea-side town at the moments and it's like a holding pen for the Jeremy Kyle show.  He's absolutely right.  Our road through the village becomes a giant pavement where they walk 4/5 abreast and let their pesky dogs run wild, never mind the children, and they think double yellows are just our way of decorating roads to make it easier for them to park their off-roaders, motor homes, boat trailers and expensive sports cars.  It's not safe to venture out to the local shops until at least 8pm when they're all stoking up their bbq's and swigging the large packs of beer they walk around with in the afternoons.  Our grockles could never be described as EMMETS as they are much larger, much less intelligent than ants and move with herd-like mentality instead of swarming, and I'd prefer the Cornish emmets to the South-Coast grockles any day having lived in Cornwall a fair bit and have compared the two..... probably been one myself wink as 700 years is a long time in anyone's book! sun.gifrelax.gif



-- Edited by namparagirl on Monday 27th of July 2009 09:41:23 AM

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Most probably yet another writer stuck in Walter Mitty land like a lot of other people altering WG's eighties statements to conform to their reality. And it's emmets not emits disbelief

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3581111/A-plague-on-you-ghastly-Emmets.html



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confuseno Dunno ............he just did, call it creative genius!  Do you know the answer?wink

-- Edited by namparagirl on Monday 27th of July 2009 12:28:36 AM

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.....he knew it was not the end of his relationship with the Poldark people.

How did he know ? confuse

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"Thanks for the link to the love triangle story, I don't think this was where I saw it but it's interesting they say "focusing exclusively" which I can't remember at all"

No idea it's your link not mine....!

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A-hahhhh!!!!!

And how did the writer know that WG had intended the books to be a trilogy eh? 

It couldn't be that he or she had read the part in 'Memoirs of a Private Man' where he says that he had intended to write one book to begin with, but very quickly realised that there was  a need for one or two other books in order to be able to tell the story.  The Yesterday TV report was written fairly recently so one would assume that the information contained in it was gleaned from either the memoirs, or maybe Poldark's Cornwall.

The answer to your question is, of course, Yes!  But ........... he knew it was not the end of his relationship with the Poldark people.  Just time for a convenient pause and a change of direction for a while.  smile

-- Edited by namparagirl on Sunday 26th of July 2009 11:13:28 PM

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Date: Jul 26 10:03 PM, 2009
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In answer to your question, and as always I couldn't agree more with what you say, I am a great fan of all the books too.

However to clarify the original point a little better....

"He had originally intended it to be a trilogy focusing exclusively on the love triangle between Poldark, his cousin and Elizabeth."

http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/stepbystep/aid/557341

Although not quite a trilogy do you think he did succeed in what he intended to do in the first 4 books ?



-- Edited by Tholly on Sunday 26th of July 2009 10:39:30 PM

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Without a doubt, his first four books reign supreme for me oozing as they do with romance, passion, atmosphere, superbly descriptive and evocative of the very soul of Cornwall and are definitely the ones I return over and over, especially 'Ross Poldark' and 'Demelza'.  These followed closely by the next three, in a very similar way to everyone else who has posted an opinion. 

However, I have been able to find flashes of the old brilliance in all the later books too, I think they just need to be re-read a few times to uncover it, as first impressions may not be as memorable when compared to the overwhelming escapism and page turning compulsion experienced when reading the very early books.   I found this particularly true in the case of Bella, but my favourite of the very latest two novels, as I have mentioned before has to be 'The Twisted Sword'.  

Maybe I belong in the minority, but I particularly liked finding out about Ross and Demelza's children and how their lives evolved and it was great to see them entering a different dimension as their children grew into young adults.  There are lots of very endearing and touching moments where you see Ross's vulnerability as he struggles with fatherhood and also for Demelza who risks all to protect her son, as only a mother would.


I get the feeling, Tholly, that you'd have been happy for the story to finish at Warleggan, are you a fan of the TV series or do you just prefer the books?



-- Edited by namparagirl on Sunday 26th of July 2009 07:50:18 PM

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So how do you rate his first 4 books in relation to the rest ? smile




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This love triangle thing obviously changed and evolved over time as the story unfolded, because, without doubt, at the start it had to be between, 'Ross, Francis and Elizabeth', but the emphasis obviously shifted, after Elizabeth and Francis's marriage and leading up to and after Francis's death, changing the trio to 'Ross, Demelza and Elizabeth.'  Continuing with this vein of thought, it continued to shift and change to become 'Ross, Demelza and Hugh' and the repercussions and effects of this on their lives as these love triangles flow throughout the story, eventually coming back to rest with 'Ross, Demelza with the new third party being the ghosts of the other two (Elizabeth and Hugh)', which Ross and Demelza learned painfully to put to rest at last.  If we take this one step further, the love triangle idea passes on into the lives of Ross and Demelza's children and here we see 'Jeremy, Valentine and Cuby', 'Clowance, Ben and Stephen' and 'Bella, Christopher and Edward.'  Perhaps WG should have named his saga 'The Curse of the Poldarks'?  Now there's a thought for discussion maybe? confusewink

Unless we ever get the chance to hold a Grand, 'All Will Be Revealed, No Holds Barred' Poldark forum discussion upstairs beyond the Pearly Gates some day, we really will never know what went on in WG's mind and if St Peter was or is a Cornishman, then we'd better keep zipped when we arrive up there anyway, as anyone adding to or encouraging the ingress of 'emits' in Cornwall is without a doubt, sure to be going to the hot place downstairs!wink

My belief is that of all his novels, the Poldarks were the most cherished and intrinsically personal to him even though they may not have been the most financially rewarding at times; there was so much of his very soul and his private life poured into them, that they were, I believe, a part of his creativity which he cherished the most and of which he was justifiably most proud.  This is just my opinion and I may be wrong, but I'm just eternally grateful that he did write more than the first 2, 3 or 4 books as all of them have been for me, one of life's greatest joys.









-- Edited by namparagirl on Sunday 26th of July 2009 05:35:41 PM

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Some interesting thoughts, as you say Tholly, a great discussion. I wonder if WGs family knew his real motives for returning to the series in the seventies?? The only part which does not fit with it being more of a business deal than an emotional one is why he didnt continue to write after THe Angry tide when the BBC wanted to continue with another series. 
Another issue i have had, is that i felt the books should have ended with The Loving Cup because at that point all loose ends were tied up and i remember being really surprised when The Twisted Sword was published. The book i have states on the fly cover that The Loving Cup concludes - for a while- the poldark saga. The Twisted sword came along six years later and also interestingly announces itself as the final book in the poldark saga! Bella was written in 2002 so there were very long gaps between these books  and each one professing to be the last! So maybe because so much emotional energy was expended in the writing of the poldark novels,  WG would feel exhausted and not able to see how the story could possibly continue. Also the last three books were huge in comparison to the earlier books and so would demand a lot of work and time. So what im saying is that poldark seems to have always come along in WGS mind at intervals and when he writes an episode, it has been always been self limiting, the desire to tell the storys seems to come to a natural conclusion and then lie dormant for years. Does that make sense??  

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But it does not necessarily mean that by writing this, WG had decided this was the end and I agree with Char that he had left little loose ends untied which kept the reader hoping that there would be more to come in the future.

Agreed, it's always a strong possibility of course especially after being so emotionally involved with writing them, but as you say unfortunately we'll never know.

But as I said I'm referring to WG's thoughts, motivations and goals about the love triangle only back in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties and ahem "Poldark's Cornwall" was written in 1983 and with the benefit of hindsight lol ! So it's impossible to know what seventies and onwards pressures whether from his publishers, his fans, or even greater financial inducements lay behind his to me still unconvincing statements during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, which obviously were not around and imposing themselves upon him and his family in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. And that's my point.

OK let's imagine we're all now back with WG in Perranporth in 1938/9 which is where all this must obviously start.

He now has a fairly clear idea of the new non-profit making love triangle novel with a gloomy beginning and a happy ending that he wants to write, and which I think we all agree was his main motivation to begin writing the first novel Ross Poldark. He then had plenty of valuable free time on coastguard duty to work on it throughout the war years finally publishing it in 1945. Presumably he must have felt very satisfied with it, especially after rewriting it over and over again in long hand, and that it was a great start towards exploring his love triangle because incredibly Demelza was then published in 1946. 1 year later !! Amazingly good going to have written it so well and so quickly, yet as he himself candidly admits in his autobiography he was writing from his guts, stopping as if in a coach briefly at crossroads for a short while before careering off again.

Then curiously he paused or stopped after Demelza. Why ? Because he then wrote Take My Life in 1947, Cordelia in 1949, and Night Without Stars in 1950 before next publishing Jeremy Poldark, also in 1950, with Warleggan appearing three years later. In other words all appearing at a very much slower and less frantic pace than Ross Poldark and Demelza.

My own feeling is that in the 4 year gap between Demelza and Jeremy Poldark he really needed to get away from Poldark in any case after so much exhausting creativity, the strength and depth of which I don't believe ever appeared in Poldark again. I've also often wondered that because book 2 came out so incredibly quickly after book 1 that WG perhaps felt that this might have been the final book ?

This is why I believe that it's not only the Thirties, Forties and Fifties that are so important as to why the first 2 (?) or 4 books are so wonderful, but the dates of publication themselves as they can show a clear picture of what WG must have been thinking and doing throughout the whole of this period, rather than with the benefit of the hindsight Seventies onwards. And why I've always treated the first 4 books solely on their own not only as his gloomy beginning and happy ending goal, but as the love triangle I think he'd really set his heart on long before the word Poldark ever crossed his mind.

I agree there were a lot things I did'nt enjoy in the later books either with the jarring ape the worst of all. Never understood that at all. I'm sure it would have been far more interesting, if he had to meet his end in some fashion, if he'd been caught and arrested for a big smuggling venture punishable by deportation and hauled up before the local magistrates. What would Ross and George have done then !

Hope I've managed to explain it ok ? Great topic though !

Thanks for the link to the love triangle story, I don't think this was where I saw it but it's interesting they say "focusing exclusively" which I can't remember at all.



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Talking of that elusive article which mentions the blessed love triangle - well I found a mention here, is this where you saw it Tholly and Char?

http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/stepbystep/aid/557341

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Evening all!  So much to think about eh?  Well, my thought is that when WG decided to write 'Ross Poldark' he says he wanted to write a story that began with a gloomy beginning and had a happy ending, which is just what the first four novels gave us, so when he decided to stop at the end of Warleggan he had achieved what he set out to do.  He referred to his Poldark novels as being his 'non-profit making' activities, so because he needed to make money to raise a family and live in the comfortable manner he desired and was becoming accustomed to, he chose to concentrate on his modern more lucrative novels for the next 20 years, but he never completely forgot about the Poldarks of Cornwall and perhaps, as he admits in 'Poldark's Cornwall', it may have been nostalgia and a yearning for Cornwall that brought him back to them whilst he was living in Sussex. As he himself says in 'Poldark's Cornwall':  "It would take too long to analyse the creative stirrings and conflicts which decided the change of course.  Paradoxically it may have been my absence from Cornwall at that time which was on of the factors conducive to the return to the Poldarks.  One never knows in what devious ways nostalgia may work.  I can only short-circuit it all by saying that in 1971 it became creatively stimulating to consider a return." 

I believe it had nothing at all to do with the fact that TV was so improved and Soaps becoming a popular mode of entertainment, I think it was purely that the time was right for him and in his subconscious his Cornish Poldark family quite simply called him home.  Sadly, we can never be sure as we can't ask him now, but if we imagine asking him the question: 'After Warleggan, did you take the conscious decision to close the door on the Poldark novels?' I think the answer would be: 'No, I left it slightly ajar in case I decided to walk back through it again.'

There are a few story-lines I find hard to understand, one has got to be Demelza's adultery with Hugh, have never been able to fathom that one and I want to scream at her: "Don't do it!!!!"  One of the others has got to be the whole Rev Ossie Whitworth story with Morwenna, I absolutely hate it, and it's part of the series that I really loathe.  Then, of course, there's the ape fiasco and the attempt on Demelzas life and, oh yes, Ross getting injured in the fire.

As you mention the sentence in Warleggan, chapter 6, Tholly:
_________________________________________________________________
 Tholly wrote:

"The paragraphs which finish ".... "For a long time he had been quite unsure of his own feelings: then they had crystallised; and from that moment a private meeting with Elizabeth was impossible.

Now it was too late."
__________________________________________________________________

Ross, at this point, was crystal clear about the fact that it was Demelza he truly loved and that his obsession with Elizabeth could not measure up to what he had with Demelza, so there was no point in seeking a private meeting with Elizabeth to talk any more.  But it does not necessarily mean that by writing this, WG had decided this was the end and I agree with Char that he had left little loose ends untied which kept the reader hoping that there would be more to come in the future.  Ross didn't know at this point that Elizabeth could be carrying his child, so in his mind it was the end with her.  We may just have to agree to disagree on this one wink



-- Edited by namparagirl on Sunday 26th of July 2009 11:50:59 AM

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Afternoon Tholly, . I feel that Ross and Demelzas story was told  in those first four books and there was nothing more to really add and that was why the storylines became more dramatic in the next three books.
Although I greatly enjoy the next three books, i still find it hard to believe that Demelza would EVER have been unfaithful to Ross especially when they were so happy together. That , to me , was and still is unfathomable and I dont think WG would have included that storyline if he had continued writing  straight after Warleggen. I still read that part of the book with distaste and disbelief.

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Hi Char

Good point but did WG in fact introduce details that whetted the appetite for more ? Unfortunately I just can't accept it because of the last four definitive poignant paragraphs of Chapter 6, the last but one before the final chapter in which Ross and Demelza are painfully but eventually reconciled.

The paragraphs which finish ".... "For a long time he had been quite unsure of his own feelings: then they had crystallised; and from that moment a private meeting with Elizabeth was impossible.

Now it was too late."

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Thanks Ross! Got a bit sidetracked didnt we?
I too, remember reading that WG intended the original triangle to be Ross, Francis and Elizabeth. 
I think , he certainly achieved his aims with the original books but he did leave lots of possibilities for the saga to continue so maybe he wasnt so sure he would not return to the characters one day. THe biggest clue is that he hints  that Elizabeth is pregnant and carrying Ross's baby and so gives a huge reason for following on with this wonderful story. If he had truly intended the story to end with Warleggen then why introduce details that whet the appetite for more!

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Went Off Topic, transferred across to here from "The Miller's Dance".
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RE: The early Poldark novels versus the later ones - did WG achieve what he set out to do?
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Hi Tholly, yes, take your point and I can also recall the love triangle mention, can't place where I read it yet, but I remember it referred to Ross, his cousin (Francis) and Elizabeth.  Will look for it when back from work today.

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Thanks Namparagirl for that and I totally agree with you, but I'm referring to the thoughts and decisions WG took at the time in the forties or fifties about an 18th Century love triangle, not what he thought and wrote about afterwards in the eighties, nineties or his memoirs with the benefit of hindsight. Because it was the actual decision that he took back in 1953 to end the novels at Warleggan which I believe meant he must have achieved his original goal of a love triangle he'd set sometime in the late thirties, early forties.

Otherwise why didn't he continue as they were already a big success even then and the fundamental reason why I think the first four books stand out so much in comparison to the later ones. I just wish I could remember where I read the bit about the 18th Century love triangle though, because I feel absolutely sure this is what first inspired him to write Poldark to begin with in the late Thirties. 

Anyone remember ?



-- Edited by Tholly on Saturday 25th of July 2009 07:54:05 AM

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Extracts from 'Memoirs of a Private Man' - which I think show that the Poldark novels were a totally organic and compulsive labour of love, which WG may have put to one side for many years at a time, but always the Cornish story lingered in his mind just waiting to be taken out and continued; something familiar and addictive which he always came back to like an old friend.  So in his own words, WG tells us:-

I had no thought when I began 'Ross Poldark' of a continuing series of books.  It was just to be a story of eighteenth century Cornwall, with a gloomy beginning and a happy ending, and that was that......................
Towards the end of 'Ross Poldark' it became clear that I had far more to say and to tell than could be contained within a single book.  There had to be another, and perhaps even one after that.  Not only did Ross and Demelza grip my thoughts but all ther lesser characters: the Martins, the Carters, Dwight Enys and Karen Smith, the Bodrugans, the Chynoweths, and of course the Warleggans.  These people had come alive and clamoured for attention.

So 'Demelza' came into being.  All through the time I was in the Coastguard Service I had come particularly to appreciate being alone.  I remembered the strange stimulating isolation of those few months in 1940 when, awaiting call-up, I had written the first chapters of 'Ross Poldark'.  In the final few weeks before being demobilized - since there was little now we could constructively do - I had shamelessly carried my books up to the coastguard station and spent the time writing.  When the station was closed I looked for somewhere else.  On the opposite side  of the beach was a wooden bungalow, nearly always unihabited except for a few weeks in high summer.  ...................

I have had a lot of happiness in my life, but those next few months rank high among the high spots.  Each day about ten I left our house, with a few books under my arm and a haversack on my back containing perhaps potatoes, boiled ham, a tomato, lettuce, a few slices of bread and some butter, and walked through the village and out onto the sandy beach - sometimes with the tide miles out, sometimes with it thundering and hissing at my feet, sometimes having to wade through sputtering surf up to my knees - and at the other side climb the Flat Rocks and go into the bungalow, where collecting dust even from yesterday, would be the pile of reference books and old papers that had already accumulated.  Sitting in my deckchair in the immense silences, I would pick up the book in which I had been writing yesterday and continue with the story.

It was a remarkable experience.  Sometimes in moments of critical self examination I had asked myself if I was really a novelist or just a craftsman with a story-telling ability.  In writing 'Demelza' I knew myselft with a conviction to be a novelist.  What I was writing was not a planned thing, it was organic, with the characters working out their own destiny.  Sitting there in the grey old empty bungalow, I felt like a man driving a coach and four, roughly knowing the direction in which the coach would travel, but being pulled along by forces only just under my control.  ..........
Every now and then after a long passage the coach, as it were, would lurch to a stop with a half-dozen possible roads opening ahead and no signposts.  A day or two of agonizing indecision; then the road would be chosen and we would be off again.  Occasionally during the day I would go out and stroll around the bungalow and watch the gulls and the translucent tides, feel the wind on my face: it was a mile or so from the old coastguard station but with a different, gentler view.  At about five I would pack the haversack, take up the written work, and begin the walk back in the glimmering twilight with the sea far out and the waves glinting like mirages on the wet sand.  I was going back each evening to the real world, waiting to welcome me at home; but it is doubtful which to me just then was the more real.  All I knew was that I was writing something out of my very guts, and that I was content......................
....................................................................................................................
One day during the first year of the war, when I was still waiting for call-up, I went to Truro by train and sat opposite a young RAF officer who told me he was convalescing after a crash.  He had a substantial, barely healed scar from temple to lower cheek.  ..........
A very tall bony good-looking young man with a high-strung disquiet about him that made a great impression on me.  And a depth of darkness that lay behind the frivolity of his air force language.  He was not at all nervous, but one guessed that strong nerves contributed to his latent urgent vitality.
At that time a hazy picture of the character who was to become Ross Poldark had already formed, and I was writing about him while his appearance and character still grew.
Some friend told me once that there was an element of Heathcliff in Ross Poldark.  A Cornishman, Peter Pool, more perceptively, I think, saw an affinity with Captain Hornblower, at least in his capacity for self-criticism.  It's impossible for me to take a detached view of Ross's origin and character.  All I know is that the young airman, his general appearance and my perception of his character, provided the basis for what followed.......................................................................................

I wish I could be as explicit as that in considering the creation of Demelza.  Obviously there have been borrowings, chiefly from my wife.  I took her sturdy common sense and judgement, her courage, her earthy ability to go at once to the root of a problem and point out the answer; her intense interest and pleasure in small things; and particularly I have used her gamine sense of humour.  As for the rest, most of it seemed to come from within.  A romantic man's perception of an ideal woman?  That was maybe how it began, but I have had no more than parental control over how she has developed.

Sometimes a name is a great help.  While the first book was still in it's preliminary stages I was driving across Bodmin Moor and, not far from Roche saw a small signpost marked DEMELZA.  Until then she had no name; after that she could have had no other.
..........................................................................................................................

The Cornish novels, twelve in all, not far off two million words, have occupied for better or worse a considerable part of my life.  Over long periods they have been entirely quiescent, though never forgotten.  After the first four, which covered in the writing only about eight years, there was the long gap of twenty years before I took them up again.

I was very doubtful then whether I could ever get back into the mood in which I had written 'Poldark', even if I wanted to.  Life moves on.  One becomes more cynical, more sophisticated - and one's work mirrors it.  All through two decades I had received letters from readers asking me to continue the story.  Friends similarly - especially, of course Cornish friends.  And the memory of that 'possession' which had taken hold of me once or twice in the writing - especially in 'Demelza' - still stirred.  None of my modern novels had created this haunted sensation.  But the modern novels gave me a lot of satisfaction in other ways, and were much more successful...................
I found myself under a number of pressures.  I had no need to make money for some years; my new publisher, Collins, were ardent admirers of the Poldark novels - reader's letters still came; and over and above all this, far more important than all this, was a growing desire and a curiosity to know what all these people would do after Christmas 1793, where I had left them for so long.

So a new novel 'The Black Moon' was dated to begin on the 14th February 1794, seven weeks after the end of Warleggan.  Only in reality was there a gap of twenty years. 
It was hard going to begin.  The style seemed to be lost.  I was trying to return to the eighteenth century and a family saga; a different, slower tempo, a rebirth of characters long since left behind.  And although I didn't take too much account of this, I knew that by changing styles I should be disappointing as many readers as I pleased.  
I have somewhere, writing before, described the return to Poldark as being as difficult as breaking the sound barrier.  This is an exaggeration, but for some months I told no one, except my wife what was going on, lest I should find the attempt beyond me and give it all up.
But after a few months the momentum came back; the characters had clearly only been latent, for they were active and lively from the start, almost as it they had never been neglected at all.  They sprang up around me..............................

Towards the end the novel seemed to take over my life - even though it was being written in Sussex, not in Cornwall - and the intense absorption, exciting but exhausting, reached a climax in the last two weeks, when I sometimes wrote 4,000 words - in longhand - in a day.

When it was over and done with and after a decent interval, I began the sixth Poldark, 'The Four Swans'.  Irrespective of what reception 'The Black Moon' might receive, there was no question now but that I must complete another sequence of these novels - though this time it was to be three books, not four; and my feeling was to write these straight through, not intersperse them with modern novels as had been done with the first four.  A whole set of new characters had flooded into 'The Black Moon' and they demanded time and space to work out their own destiny.

...................................................

There is no doubt in my mind that WG definitely achieved what he set out to do and achieved his aims in the writing of the Poldark story, a tale which was originally planned to be told in one novel but which turned into a superb saga documenting the lives of the wonderful Poldark family, lived out against the backdrop of 18th and early 19th century Cornwall.





-- Edited by namparagirl on Saturday 25th of July 2009 12:29:19 AM


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Char Nanfan

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I think the compelling magic of poldark is that WG manages to appeal to that part of all of usthat remembers the power of  first love or rather the illusion of that love which remains  untouched by reality and time and so always remains clear and strong. We all recognise that Ross's love for Elizabeth is not real, he doesnt really know her , she is an ideal , an image he has carried through his time in America , a link to home and all that is familiar and comforting. Her marriage to Francis and removal from Ross's affections only cements her position as unobtainable goddess in his eyes. Demelza, who we recognise immediately as his one true love, his soulmate and perfect partner has none of the mystery of Elizabeth and though we know they are destined to be together , the epic journey their relationship takes is compelling, heartbreaking and completely absorbing.

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The love triangle is obviously Ross, Elizabeth and Demelza.  I don't believe Francis was really jealous of Ross' love for Elizabeth (or her's for Ross) as the two ladies were of each other's love for Ross. 

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For me impossible to tell.



-- Edited by Tholly on Friday 24th of July 2009 10:18:41 PM

Char Nanfan

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I would say the triangle was JUd , Prudie and Char Nanfan..............

Tholly
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Char Nanfan wrote:

What Im curious about Tholly, is who comprised the love triangle? Was it Ross, Elizabeth and Francis or Ross, ELizabeth and Demelza?


Hmmm..... confuse.... confuse ....

Me head says the Cap'n, Elizabeth and Francis, me heart says the Cap'n, Elizabeth and Demelza, but if Joshua were around I'd keep me mouth shut.

 



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My vote on who was in the love triangle .......is for Ross, Demelza and Elizabeth!

Char Nanfan

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What Im curious about Tholly, is who comprised the love triangle? Was it Ross, Elizabeth and Francis or Ross, ELizabeth and Demelza?

Tholly
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Interesting discussion even if it is going a little off topic ! biggrin

Obviously WG's talent as a writer is legendary and for me he is and always will be the finest author I have ever read bar none. It's always so wonderful and enjoyable to lose onself in Poldark and why I make sure I've always got all 12 within arm's reach !

However for me there are still two questions that have always remained unanswered. Firstly why did WG deliberately stop after Warleggan ? Personally I think it can only have been because he felt he had achieved what he set out to do.  

Which raises the second question. What does everybody feel he set out to do ? I confess I'm not very clear on this other than what seems to be generally accepted that in essence he wanted to create and then explore an 18th Century love triangle. And re-reading the end of Warleggan is how WG chose in 1953 or so to finish it.

It's specifically because of WG's original aims before starting to write Ross Poldark why I feel it's so important to treat his first four books entirely on their own merit as well.

The big question is did he or did he not succeed in his original aim ?  confuse

Great topic !!

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Thanks for all your views - they coincide with my own and I'm glad that so many of you have posted replies to my question.  I often have imaginary conversations with WG and time and again I come up with the same answers - he had simply changed the emphasis of the Poldark saga slightly to give us, the reader, more insight into the world stage (ie the wars with France and the changing face of England during that centuary) this is why I'm sure he left Ross in parliament.  I also agree that The Twisted Sword was the best of  the later novels.

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It's very true that the early books have a much more intimate and nostalgically warm and cosy Cornish feeling, where the lives of our lovely Poldark peeps are going about the complicated business of living and loving.  During this period, their lives are still fraught with danger and problems, but the dangers are inherently regional and, therefore, seem far less threatening, for instance, smuggling, mining, aiding the escape of local murderers, struggling with passions leading to arguments and fistycuffs in the local taverns with old adversaries, the morbid sore throat, poaching and, not forgetting the heroic trip to France to rescue Dwight, all played out in the relatively safe haven of Cornwall.  

WG, as we all know was a stickler for carrying out impeccable research before writing his novels and the period from 1810 onwards was a very turbulent time for England, at war with France and industrial change.  Personally, I always wished that Ross had not decided to stand for parliament, but this would definitely have been the end of the story as it would have been very difficult to find new ways to make the novels interesting.  I think that the later books echo real life situations, as, even in the 1800's family members grew up and followed their own paths, yes, I agree, this opens the story up to encompass other areas of the country and travel abroad giving the story a much wider stage, yes, granted, even a bit of a Hollywood feel, but with sons going off to war and marriages being made between minor and major gentry up and down the country, this just reflects what was actually happening around this time.

Your point about WG refusing to write to order after 'The Angry Tide' is very true, but he did definitely return to the Poldark story of his own volition in the latest books, by which time, as you rightly say, the world had completely changed, attitudes, behaviour, lifestyle and moral conduct was altered beyond imagination when compared to the 1940's and although the effects of modern day thinking can be detected in his later writing, nothing could alter the perceptive and intuitive way WG created his characters, beautifully bringing to life their thoughts and feelings and through it all, the great skill and dignity, always wholly apparent in his writing style never faltered.

My least favourite bits of the story are in Bella, which I think did go slightly off track with the storyline about the horrid ape, I'll never understand what was going on in WG's mind there, but parts of Bella are written so beautifully and capture the romance and magnificance of his earlier writing.  I found that the later books need to be read more than a few times to reveal flashes of the old WG magic.

Whatever, for me, opening the cover of one of his books is like turning the handle of your front door and shouting to a loved one tucked up inside "Helloooow, I'm home, put the kettle on please!"



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"But sometimes the totally unexpected occurs, and one day last year (probably 1972), for no discoverable reason, it became necessary for me to see what happened to these people after Christmas night, 1793."

Whilst WG says in the extract above at the beginning of The Black Moon published in 1973, why after 20 years, Warleggan being published in 1953, he started up again, unfortunately I've never really felt his reasons to be all that convincing partly because TV and the media had changed so much in between those years. And partly because his other books don't appear to have been as successful as Poldark in the interim.

Going to the local cinema in the early fifties to see the latest weekly film offering together with all its latest Technicolor and gimmicks like 3D plastic lenses, was most families' basic staple evening's or week's entertainment, whereas early fifties black and white TV by contrast was very crude with nothing like the enormous appeal it had by the beginning of the seventies. To the point where TV finally replaced the cinema's top position almost completely with many cinemas as a consequence being forced to close down. So I found myself more or less agreeing with Char's point that "it's almost like a Hollywood version of a British soap."

Weren't the early seventies about the time that nightly popular programmes such as "Coronation Street", "Dixon of Dock Green" and even "Soap" itself began to appear ? In other words could all this new surge of interest in TV entertainment have been the reason that WG started writing again ? Or could it more than likely have been due to very strong pressure from his publishers wanting to cash in for themselves, and not from WG's own personal decision after all ? Proof of WG's basic motives in themselves, if any further were needed that this possibility was highly likely, is that WG utterly ignored the BBC's pressure to write any more books after the TV series finished with The Angry Tide. He simply refused to write to order.

I just feel it's pretty obvious, if only from just the 20 year time gap itself, that WG knew in just the same inner way that Warleggan was also his last book as well, otherwise he would have continued out of personal interest. Without question.



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I think , for me, the reason why the later books dont quite resonate the same is the sheer scale of the stories, its almost like a hollywood version of a british soap. Not so homely, less cornish as Dwight says and so a bit intimidating. I agree that WG wrote these books at a different time and that shows.Interestingly i have always wondered if Ossie Whitworth and his little foibles would have appeared if WG had carried on writing in the forties and fifties??
The range of locations in the latter books is quite varied as well and so we are taken away from familiar surroundings and i most definitely did not like the murder storyline in Bella, i felt quite nauseous when Demelza was  in so much danger and i didnt like feeling like that in my poldark world.

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Absolutely agree with everyone else's comments about the early books having that extra special something that just make them unforgettable.  Maybe it's because WG was actually living and breathing the atmosphere of Cornwall when he wrote them, together with the fact that he himself was very much in love and newly married at the time, that the first books reflect the evocative innocent charm and romance of this bygone era which inspires our imaginations and captures our hearts in such a totally addictive manner.  

Of his later Poldark books, 'The Twisted Sword' is one of my favourites; filled with every kind of human emotion with intuitively written scenes encompassing a great depth of love, passion, pain and despair, beautifully bringing to life the feelings of our beloved Poldark family, as they face new experiences and ultimate disaster.

Certainly, I have never been so totally captivated by any other author and just need to turn the first page of one of his books to be transported  into the magical world of 18th century Cornwall, to spend time with these wonderful characters who I have come to love so well and who seem so real to me; once inside a book, I agree, there is no doubt, the Poldark world truly exists.  

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Having bought the Macmillan centenary edition of all twelve books in the saga, and read the whole lot effectively cover to cover in one back to back session, admittedly over a couple of months or so, I do so agree with Char's comment. The first four, then the next three, with the others lagging some way behind. They are still Poldark of course, and were it to be possible, I'd more than happily accept another twelve in the Bella mold, but the early books are certainly more - what? More Poldark, more romantic, more emotional, more Cornish? I don't know, but arguably shall we say, more emotionally satisfying.

I suppose the change in "atmosphere" is probably due to the actual real time passage of years between the writings, as well as WG going off on different projects, and returning to Poldark when he himself, and his writing, had moved on. Not to mention, the almost unimaginary different real world we and WG were living in in the 1990's compared the to 1940's when WG's peaceful Wartime years allowed him of the leisure time, overlooking "Hendrawna" beach, living working and breathing in Poldark's Cornwall, to create what I for one consider to be the most real life fictional family in English literature.

And again, like Char, the Poldark world is almost more real than the, errr, real world itself. When I'm in Poldark world, it is real, and I AM there.

Dwight



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Poldarkgirl, i agree wholeheartedly. I too love the characters so much that i have always enjoyed reading all the books but my heart lies with the first four books closely followed by the next three. Its taken  quite a few years and several viewings of the books for Ross and Demelzas children to ingratiate themselves into my head and heart, not sure why this should be. The poldark world is so familiar to me that picking up one of the  earlier books is like going through the wardrobe door to Narnia, Im just there, completely immersed in 18th century Cornwall. Its not quite so familiar with the latter books, several new characters who i dont visualise quite as easily or like so much and a  much wider landscape.

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The Angry Tide was the last novel that WG had written when the second TV series was completed.  He did not anticipate writing any more Poldark novels following that one as he felt that he had told their story.  It was not until some years later that he decided to revisit the Poldarks and take up their stories after so long an absence and so began the novels from Stranger from the Sea onwards until the very last one Bella.   I have always felt that the best of the Poldark novels were the ones that were written in the 40s/early 50s ie the ones upon which the first TV series were loosly based.  Although I love and enjoy all the Poldark novels (having fallen in love with the characters that appeared in the first four books) I feel that the first four novels, closely followed by the next three, are far surperior to what came later.  Does any one else agree?


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