Sometimes the best form of charity is individual: to teach and prod and expand the universe for another person. Margaret Drabble describes how Arnold Bennett did this for a young South African lady:

Pauline Smith was a timid girl, socially self-conscious, not very strong, with aspirations and indeed a real talent as a writer, but very little self-assertion or confidence. Bennett was an ideal mentor. He had noticed her and her mother at the hotel, had talked to them, had brusquely defended Pauline's social vagueness, and had criticized her writing: he liked her children's stories, but not her projected novel. Now, in his house, she was going to be compelled to write a novel, and to make conversation. He also widened her taste in literature greatly; until then she had led a narrow and sheltered life, and he revealed to her 'the world of modern literature, in France and Russia as well as in England.' Bennett, never one himself to despise guidance or reject the revelations of others, was always keen to impart his own enthusiasms, and Pauline was an eager pupil. She says of him: 'To the end the discovery of beauty in any form was adventure to him — and adventure to be eagerly shared. In later years I never went with him to any play or art collection without being in this same way enriched. . . ' As a protégé, as well as an admirer, she was a success: her short stories, The Little Karoo, all set in the South Africa of her childhood, were widely admired and are still remembered. Bennett must have felt a justified pride in writing an introduction for the collection, in 1925, describing himself as 'the earliest wondering admirer of her strange, austere, tender and ruthless talent.'

(from Arnold Bennett: A Biography, Chapter 8, "Success"; cf. HisOwnLight (20 Oct 2005), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicBennett - 2005-12-14

(correlates: VastInjustice, OutOfSync, UnenviableHappiness, ...)