Read The Good Companions by J.B. Priestley Free Online
Book Title: The Good Companions|
The author of the book: J.B. Priestley
Date of issue: September 1969
ISBN 13: 9780140016833
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Reader ratings: 4.2
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 643 KB
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Probably the most popular of Priestley's novels, The Good Companions was an instant best-seller when it was first published in July 1929, and, while JBP came to feel its success subsequently overshadowed many more important works, the book has remained popular. It was his third novel and it is certainly well-written and very readable. It is, too, an enjoyable romp, all about a stranded theatrical group the Dinky Doos rescued by Miss Trant and coverted into the Good Companions, and involving their adventures with such characters as Jess Oakroyd, the middle-aged joiner from Bruddersford, who breaks free from his miserable domestic existence, Susie Dean and Inigo Jollifant. It is the sort of long, colourful novel which was one of Priestley's hallmarks, and it is clear that Priestley enjoyed himself writing it. He regarded the job as not so much a task, more a kind of holiday.
One of the ironies of the success of The Good Companions is that when he discussed his idea for the book with his publishers they told him that such a book would not appeal to the current reading public. However, the germ of the story was embedded deep into his mind and heart, and writing the novel became something of an obsession. He had made up his mind to write a novel that he himself could enjoy even if nobody else did...and, in the event, a great many others also loved it! (The novel arrived at a time when the country was in depression, and someone commented that The Good Companions "soared out of the gloom like a fairy tale to lift thousands of minds into a world of literary enchantment."
David Hughes in "J.B. Priestley:An Informal Study of His Work", wrote: "The Good Companions is a simple book, plainly constructed and straightforwardly told. Like so much of Priestley's work, its action begins on a note of rebellion, while its impulse is the search for romance without losing sight of reality; indeed, staring into the very heart of reality for the magic. Jess Oakroyd is pitched into loneliness by the drab quarrrelling of his family. Miss Trant, suddenly relieved in early middle age of a burden that might have lasted her lifetime, turns against the trivial monotony of her genteel days in a Cotswold village. Inigo Jollifant, surrounded in the prep school where he teaches by petty rulings, is refused permission to play the piano by the headmaster's wife, gets drunk and escapes into the night. Three separate rebellions against the frustrations of life put three characters on the road for what is probably the longest picaresque novel in English since Pickwick."
Priestley started to write The Good Companions in January 1928, and he delivered the manuscript to Heinemann in March 1929.
At least two films have been made of The Good Companions, and it has been turned into a play on several occasions.
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Read information about the authorJohn Boynton Priestley, the son of a schoolmaster, was born in Bradford in September 1894, and after schooling he worked for a time in the local wool trade. Following the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Priestley joined the British Army, and was sent to France --in 1915 taking part in the Battle of Loos. After being wounded in 1917 Priestley returned to England for six months; then, after going back to the Western Front he suffered the consequences of a German gas attack, and, treated at Rouen, he was declared unfit for active service and was transferred to the Entertainers Section of the British Army.
When Priestley left the army he studied at Cambridge University, where he completed a degree in Modern History and Political Science. Subsequently he found work as theatre reviewer with the Daily News, and also contributed to the Spectator, the Challenge and Nineteenth Century. His earliest books included The English Comic Characters (1925), The English Novel (1927), and English Humour (1928). His breakthrough came with the immensely popular novel The Good Companions, published in 1929, and Angel Pavement followed in 1930. He emerged, too, as a successful dramatist with such plays as Dangerous Corner (1932), Time and the Conways (1937), When We Are Married (1938) and An Inspector Calls (1947).
The publication of English Journey in 1934 emphasised Priestley's concern for social problems and the welfare of ordinary people.
During the Second World War Priestley became a popular and influential broadcaster with his famous Postscripts that followed the nine o'clock news BBC Radio on Sunday evenings. Starting on 5th June 1940, Priestley built up such a following that after a few months it was estimated that around 40 per cent of the adult population in Britain was listening to the programme.
Some members of the Conservative Party, including Winston Churchill, expressed concern that Priestley might be expressing left-wing views on the programme, and, to his dismay, Priestley was dropped after his talk on 20th October 1940.
After the war Priestley continued his writing, and his work invariably provoked thought, and his views were always expressed in his blunt Yorkshire style.
His prolific output continued right up to his final years, and to the end he remained the great literary all-rounder. His favourite amiong his books was for many years the novel Bright Day, though he later said he had come to prefer The Image Men.
It should not be overlooked that Priestley was an outstanding essayist, and many of his short pieces best capture his passions and his great talent and his mastery of the English language. He set a fine example for any would-be author.
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