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Extra info for A Choice of Flowers. Chaguo LA Maua: An Anthology of Swahili Love Poetry (African Writers Series, 93)
Instead his slightly stilted, educated foreigner's English is appropriately courteous. The phrase 'in splendid form', emphasising the excellence of his talk, more impressive, it is explained, because outside his field, develops the balance in the comedy between the breadth of his intellectual range and the one point that he overlooks. His topic is just right. A scholar in the continental tradition might weIl choose English sonnet sequences for lunch time conversation. Without being absurdly abstruse, it is likely to test Lushington's resources - a punishment, perhaps.
Professor Mavrin does condescend to speak of his own subject in Chapter 28, where he lectures Lushington on 'the dark and secret places' which lurk 'in the real m of the subconscious'. He is suspicious about his wife, whose behaviour suggests that she is in love with another man. Such are the strange workings of the subconscious, he maintains, that she appears to be jealous of Lushington's friendship with Da Costa, with whom she is obviously in love. Lushington pleads that psychology is too 'morbid' a subject to talk about on a lovely day.
The habit, to develop so richly in later books, is already a pleasure in Venusberg, where Mavrin, for example, looking noble in his dressing-gown, is like one of the Burghers of Calais (12). There are also early ventures with 'as if: Da Costa 'laughed again, deafeningly, as ifhe were going to go offhis head at any moment' (10). Another pleasure which must have made attentive readers remember Powell's name is the unfailing skill with talk, notable in this book, especially in Mavrin, in those who speak English weIl but as a foreign language.