Thursday, 13 September 2012

Michael Arlen

Michael Arlen born in Rousse, Bulgaria, 1895-1956, original name Dikran Kouyoumdjian, was an Armenian essayist, short story writer, novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter, who had his greatest successes in the 1920s while living and writing in England. Although Arlen is most famous for his satirical romances set in English smart society, he also wrote gothic horror and psychological thrillers. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry was allowed to chose a copy of Arlen's Mayfair as a prize by the Leys Fortnightly in 1925. (Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 38).

Lowry refers to Michael Arlen in a letter to Carol Brown dated 27/4/1926; "..... young lovers of the present generation are helped greatly in awkward situations by the use of words which have been used by their fictional heroes in similarly awkward positions, or position, helpful matter which would have been denied to those who lived before the days of shall we say, Charles Dickens, James Elroy Flecker, and Michael Arlen". (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 14). Lowry was probably recalling either The London Venture (1920), Piracy (1922), The Green Hat (1924) or Mayfair (1925). Lowry again refers to Arlen in another letter to Carol Brown dated May 1926 when he tells her about what Rev. Harry Bisseker, the Leys's Headmaster had been saying about him to W. H. Balgarnie treasurer and president of the Leys Fortnightly committee; "that...I had been reading Alec Waugh, but I had been reading Noel Coward, Michael Arlen, Eugene O'Neill, and Samuel Butler." (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 25).

Lowry also refers to Arlen in his short story 'The Blue Bonnet' for the Leys Fortnightly; "With apologies to the Author of "Mayfair", "The Green Hat", etc (Pg. 5) - the short story is a pastiche of Arlen's work.

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