Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin

‘Don’t talk about God – be it! Find the place, the formula … Ah, Larry, it isn’t that life is so short, it’s that it’s everlasting!’ Henry Miller wrote to Lawrence Durrell in 1959. The formula, if one were to look to history for clues, seems fairly simple. Be white, male, fairly imposing in stature, and in possession of a large ship and obedient crew. Mysteriously circle the coast of a remote tropical island populated by savages who have never seen a white man before. Drop anchor. Enjoy your apotheosis.

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[*] Old Street, 276 pp., £10.99, November 2013, 978 1 908699 64 0.