Article ‘Sitwells’, The Adelphi vol. I, no. 3 (August 1923), pp. 236-238.
Bennett’s drubbing by Virginia Woolf is well documented. Although Bennett himself eschewed the wilder reaches of high modernism, he was a measured supporter of writers such as D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce. ‘Sitwells’, from a literary journal founded and edited by Katherine Mansfield’s former lover John Middleton Murry, reviews the output of these minor modernists. The article is a good example of Bennett’s critical generosity and willingness to commend aspects of a style he finds uncongenial. Of Edith he writes ‘Her skill dazzles me, who once attempted rhyme.’ Slightly impatient with techniques such as synaesthesia and claiming ‘deep pain’ occasioned by the appearance of bad grammar, Bennett nevertheless admires Sacheverell’s ‘damnably difficult’ novel. He declares ‘I will stand till I fall dead by the positive assertion that there is a very considerable amount of new beauty in this book. […] You see it moving dimly at the ends of misty glades.’ Bennett makes a few little digs at the trio, not least the omission of the definite article – no doubt considered – which makes ‘Sitwells’ sound like a tiresome medical condition or mild expletive. Nevertheless, here and elsewhere he generally refrains from the kind of vicious personal attack which was periodically fired at him by members of the avant garde literati.