Finally, in , Cary managed to publish Aissa Saved, a novel that drew on his Nigerian experience. The book was not particularly successful, but sold more than Cary's next novel, An American Visitor , even though that book had some critical success. The African Witch did a little better and the Carys managed to move back into their home.
Although none of Cary's first three novels was particularly successful critically or financially, they are progressively more ambitious and complex.
Joyce Cary: Getting it from the Horse’s Mouth | SpringerLink
Indeed, The African Witch is so rich in incident, character, and thematic possibility that it over-burdens its structure. Cary understood that he needed to find new ways to make the narrative form carry his ideas. With Mister Johnson , written entirely in the present tense, Cary's work becomes generally identified with literary Modernism. George Orwell, on his return from Spain, recommended Cary to the Liberal Book Club which requested Cary to put together a work outlining his ideas on freedom and liberty, a basic theme in all his novels.
Released as Power in Men [not Cary's title], the publisher seriously cut the manuscript without Cary's approval and he was most unhappy with the book. Now Cary contemplated a trilogy of novels based on his Irish background.
Castle Corner did not do well and Cary abandoned the idea. One last African novel, Mister Johnson , followed. Although now regarded as one of Cary's best novels, it sold poorly at the time.
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