Every Green Thing
It is hard to know what has made me a lifelong reader of John Cowper Powys, but perhaps the fact that he was one of three very different brothers who shared a common impulse may be part of the explanation. Like many people I read John Cowper first, but it was not long before I fell under the spell of Theodore, whose Mr Weston’s Good Wine (1927) was still being read when I came across it towards the end of the Sixties. Presented with the lapidary finality one finds in inscriptions in country graveyards, Theodore’s allegory tells how Mr Weston and his assistant Michael arrive in the village of Folly Down, selling wine – the light wine that gives pleasure, the heavy dark wine that brings peace – and then vanish into smoke. Reading the book in my late teens I thought it a perfect inversion of conventional religion, showing how a faith that promised eternal life could be reframed as one in which redemption comes in the form of everlasting death.