The Boyhood of Widmerpool

Jenkins, unexpectedly, sees Widmerpool at the Walpole-Wilson’s. “Just as the first sight of the Boyhood of Cyrus … had brought back memories of childhood, the sight of Widmerpool called up in a similar manner — almost like some parallel scene from Mr. Deacon’s brush entitled Boyhood of Widmerpool — all kinds of reflections of days at school [BM 34/30].”

We have gone from real pictures by real artists (The Boyhood of Raleigh), to fictional pictures by real artists (Lavery’s Lady Walpole-Wilson), to fictional pictures by fictional artists (The Boyhood of Cyrus). Now we have the absurd task of imagining a painting that a fictional artist did not paint.  The task is comedic, not only because the painting does not exist, but also because Boyhood paintings are reserved for the genesis myths of heros, Raleigh or Cyrus or King Alfred or Abraham Lincoln; whereas, we know Widmerpool only for his remarkable ambition coupled with social ineptitude. So, is the Boyhood of Widmerpool just a joke, or does it forewarn us that we are learning about the youth of the antihero of the Dance?

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