A BBC adaptation will introduce Rumer Godden’s 1938 masterpiece – about the conflict between sensual and cerebral – to a new audience

The reflection in her mirror disliked the writer Rumer Godden in the late summer of 1938 Passionately she wrote down what she saw. Her eyes, they wrote, were serious, her forehead was clever, but a “weak little chin” and a “slightly sensual mouth “Oversized and too light” outweighed any good impression weeks before the birth of their second child, increasingly ambivalent about her absent husband, worried about money, trying to balance motherhood and writing, Godden gave in to sharp self-criticism

Days before, she had finished a novel that her father assured no one would read, a “book about nuns” that played out this conflict between the sensual and the cerebral – in this case under the guise of religious belief became a central role

Black Narcissus described the failure of an Anglo-Catholic sisterhood to set up a monastery in an empty palace in the Himalayas Order, which was based in Canstead, Sussex, and sent a stream of sisters to Egypt, Persia and India and China, ”wrote Godden. Even the weather is against women, at such high altitude the air is uncomfortably thin. But enemies lurk in it too The secret niches of the hearts of Sister Clodagh and Sister Ruth Black Narcissus represents discipline against desire with dire consequences, including madness and death

Despite the subject matter, the belief of the Rumer Godden publishers doubling their advance to £ 50 was established more than 80 years ago. The novel – her third – came to be seen upon publication as “the strange story of endangered souls in the Himalayas “Celebrated – solidly sold on both sides of the Atlantic, put its author right on the literary map and stayed in print ever since. 1947 it inspired a film version written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Godden himself loathed it, overwhelmed by what she dismissed as his untruth: “The Himalayas were just muslin mounted on poles,” she said

Even so, it won a number of awards, and its cinematography and sophisticated combination of melodrama and psychological insight continue to deserve praise Fans are Martin Scorsese, like Godden’s novel, the film indulges in its extraordinary landscape Dizzying abysses and ravines, as viewers quickly realize, represent the ravines waiting to devour the main character of the novel, Sister Clodagh, when tempted , in the form of the local businessman, Mr. Dean, whose muscular brusqueness disturbingly reminds her of a long-buried romantic past

No wonder this dark story, with its main components of longing, isolation, and oppression, inspired a new three-part BBC adaptation by Amanda Coe, the screenwriter behind Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, which won a Bafta for her adaptation of John Braines room upstairs

In Black Narcissus, the BBC produced a bewitching lockdown drama with a twist, The Nuns of St Faith’s are just as trapped in their hilltop convent as any teenage boy or dumbfounded parent currently longing to escape the family home, but not just the ordinances of the order and the nuns’ determination to accomplish their mission successfully the impassability of the mountain paths limit the young sisterhood to their unsuitable headquarters and they are certainly unsuitable.The palace’s uncomfortable background story is one of lush erotic enjoyment.Its memory is kept alive by the blasphemous alcoholic caretaker Ayah, whose attachment to the long-dead Princess Srimati suggests that Ms. Danvers is obsessed with her former lover in Daphne du Mauriers Rebecca, with whom Black Narcissus is often compared as an exercise in the interwar period.Although the two novels differ on the surface, both investigate – by authors who ex were current contemporaries and were born in 1907 – aspects of unfulfilled female longing and overheated ideas

Godden himself was no stranger to escape fantasies.The second and, as her father pointed out, the least attractive of the four daughters of Arthur Godden, the manager of the Brahmaputra River Steam Navigation Company, was in glory at Narayanganj in East Bengal in British India educated At the age of five she began to write hymns; She got into the autobiography at age eight and published her first newspaper article at age 12 How du Maurier Was Her Desire To Be A Writer, Powerful And Omnipresent Chinese Puzzle, the first of nearly 30 adult novels (she also wrote for children), was written in 1935 published when she was 28. She was 90 when her last novel was published in 1998. She wrote both during their marriages and during the quarter century of their widowhood; With her first husband, Laurence Foster, she had two daughters, Jane and Paula

During a long career, Godden never changed the work habits she introduced in the 1930s. She sat down to write every morning at 9:30 a.m. She did this by hand with a fountain pen and was sure that the use of a computer or word processor encouraged writers to engage with adjectives, and their cleverness included, where necessary, a mastery of extremely lavish prose, which is nonetheless of poor quality.So it is with Black Narcissus: The Throbbing Menace of the novel has nothing to do with overwriting

Much of the book, Coe says, is about “mood swings and internal processes. One of the challenges as a screenwriter adapting the novel and bringing it to the screen is finding a way to make it external and make it dramatic To make “Coe’s adaptation uses conversations between the nuns to indicate their changing states of mind, while her sister Clodagh, played by Gemma Arterton, experiences flashbacks to a lost romance

A tombstone seen at a family picnic in Cherrapunji, in hilly Assam at age 18, inspired Godden’s most famous story.Like other wealthy British families, the Goddens escaped the summer heat on the Indian plains by retreating to a hill station Godden remembered refer to the genesis of the book in her memoir: A time to dance, no time to cry: “I wandered away from the others and went down a steep little path, came across a grave; It was only marked by a small tombstone in the shape of a cross with the name “Sister …” and two dates Nobody could tell me anything about her ”

In Black Narcissus, Godden has redesigned the family picnic spot as an abandoned palace, surrounded by clouds, “on the wild hill a mile above the river overlooking the larger peaks of the Range” Attitude is key to events in the novel Black Narcissus is an armchair journey into a region that is real and unreal at the same time, as the sisters of St Find Faith, partly shiny holiday brochure, partly celluloid fantasy

In the second volume of her autobiography, published in 1989, Godden quoted a favorite Indian saying, “Everyone is a house with four rooms, one physical, one mental, one emotional, and one spiritual. Most of us live in most of the time a room, but if we don’t go into every room every day, even if we just want to ventilate it, we are not a complete person ”

It is the lesson that Sister Clodagh was forced to learn over the course of Black Narcissus – and perhaps a lesson for many of us right now

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Black Narcissus

Weltnachrichten – GB – The true story behind Black Narcissus, the escapist fantasy that put its fearless author on the map

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/real-story-behind-black-narcissus-escapist-fantasy-put-fearless/