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Depression and Purgatory in Late-20th Century London
on August 31, 2009
A pedantic, masochistic, high-minded, fifty-eight-year-old autodidact living in central London in the late-twentieth century with exalted ideas about ethics, eros, suffering and his artistic destiny, falls in love with the twenty-year-old daughter of close friends whose marriage is falling apart. The protagonist loves Hamlet, quotes Plato and Dante, and gets done in by cleverer, more worldly people in his social set who assume that he loves them whereas he, with a sense of superiority, believes they are deluded. With philosophizing, psychologizing, humor, irony, and multiple perspectives conveyed via an introduction, letters and postscripts, this rueful story characterizes in depth several late-twentieth-century English people and their muddles. The delusional power of egotism, three failed marriages, social obligations and nuisances, aging, emotional neediness, unwanted seduction, and smart people working at cross-purposes inform this purgatorial novel.