Point of Principle

Michael Irwin

  • The Country by David Plante
    Gollancz, 159 pp, £6.95, March 1981, ISBN 0 575 02938 2
  • The Radiant Future by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough
    Bodley Head, 287 pp, £7.50, March 1981, ISBN 0 370 30219 2
  • Farewell to Europe by Walter Laqueur
    Weidenfeld, 310 pp, £6.50, March 1981, ISBN 0 297 77870 6

The Country, which is concerned with old age, death and family bereavement, is adroitly restricted to an account of four visits. The first two, at intervals of a year, are paid by Daniel Francoeur, an American writer long resident in London, to his aging parents in Rhode Island. He finds them unhappy, constrained by repressed hostility and old disappointments. His mother, now an invalid who confines herself to the house, has borne seven sons. She sees herself as the victim of her husband’s sexual appetites. She resents his lack of sympathy with her tastes, her humour. For his part, he feels a failure: he carries the wound of dismissal from his life-long work as a toolmaker through having broken a strike on a point of principle.

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