Brinsley MacNamara caused quite a stir with his book The Valley of the Squinting Windows in the early 20th century. Much has happened in the intervening century. Much has changed but more has remained the same.
‘That’s strange,’ said John ‘and I thought you two were very happy in your friendship.’
‘Happiness!’ jerked out the other in a full, strong sneer.
‘There’s a funny word now, and a funny thing. Do you think that we deserve happiness any more than those around us in the valley? Not at all. Rather less do we deserve. Just think of them giving their blood and sweat so crudely in mortal combat with the fields! And what does it avail them in the end? What do they get out of it but the satisfaction of a few unkind thoughts and a few low lies? In the mean living of their own lives they represent futile expeditions in quest of joy. Yet what brings the greatest joy it is possible for them to experience? Why, the fact that another’s hope of happiness has been finally desolated. If any great disaster should suddenly come upon one or other of the three of us, upon you or me or Rebecca Kerr, they would see more glory in the fulfilment of their spite than in the harvest promise of their fields.’
The Valley of the Squinting Windows