This week’s bit of weird fiction is odder than usual.
Review: “The Curate’s Friend”, E. M. Forster, 1911.
This story is unusual in two ways. Its narrator is self-deprecating. The concluding tone is not of menace but joy.
Our narrator is, in fact, the curate. His friend is a faun. Fauns are not, we’re told right in the first paragraph, “particularly classical”. Any country with “beech clumps and sloping grass and very clear streams” can have them.
But, the curate tells us, you have to be sharped eyed to see one, and he doesn’t have a clue how he came to make friends with one. He is something of a fool, “facetious without humour and serious without conviction”. His sermons are pompous. He professes, as an unmarried man, to give advice to women on their duties as wives and widows. His “straight talks to my lads” – presumably a sort of sex ed – “led straight past anything awkward”.
However, there is Emily, his fiancé. She listens carefully to his sermons. She laughs at his jokes. She is an excellent wife, corrective of her husband’s faults yet defender of his reputation, and a good mother to her children. But Emily doesn’t become the narrator’s wife, and the why of that is where the faun comes in. Continue reading ““The Curate’s Friend””