More Collections SULAIR SU Home
The Mary Webb Digital Archive
« back to item list
Mary Webb home

[Prose Manuscript-Review] “Knowest thou the Land?”

  1. 00020874_0001
  2. 00020874_0002
  3. 00020874_0003
  4. 00020874_0004
  5. 00020874_0005
  6. 00020874_0006
  7. 00020874_0007
  8. 00020874_0008
  9. 00020874_0009
  10. 00020874_0010

Mary Webb. “Knowest thou the Land?” Prose manuscript [1926]. Five leaves, 9″ x 7″, off-white ruled paper. Signed (on the last leaf):“Mary Webb. / (Mrs. H. B. L. Webb.),” and with a few corrections. Ink notations in Webb’s hand in the top margin of the first leaf indicate that this piece is a review of May Sinclair’s book Far End (London: Hutchinson, 1926) which was published in the November 1926 issue of the Bookman. There is no known correspondence or other documentation to determine the extent and depth of the friendship between Webb and Sinclair, but Webb presented Sinclair inscribed copies of Gone to Earth (1917) after the Webbs had moved to London in 1921, and Seven For a Secret (1921) upon its publication later that year. Far End is the story of a man who comes back to his wife after straying for physical passion. Webb says: “The strange woman only loves him for what he can give her. His wife loves him for what she can give to him. Therefore it was decreed from all time that the wife would be the victor. Love unspoken is the most tremendous force in the world. . . . The great lovers of the world, in silence, rule the world.” The title of Webb’s book review appears to echo Goethe’s famous poem beginning “Kennst du das Land” from Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (first published as Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Berlin: 1795–96). In the poem, the young girl Mignon describes a beautiful and romantic world, and begs her guardian/father-figure Wilhelm (with whom she is in love) to join her there. In her review of Far End, Webb suggests similarities among the worlds described by Mignon and Sinclair. The review begins: “If only Miss Sinclair would tell us where this village, and all the other villages, deep drifted in magic of which she writes, are to be found! Then we could steal away to there, not by train nor motor, though, nor even by aeroplane, for they are not in Baedeker, they are in the Border-Country that merges into the Beyond. Who would stay hereabouts if they could live in the house of Far End, in the village of golden cottages drenched in golden light, terraced with sweetness of flowers in season, bells and cups . . . submerged in petals of snow & flame, ivory and amaranth argent and snapdragon-pink?” Provenance: H. Bradley Martin.