George Passant

C. P. Snow

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22 February 2018
0 pages

Lewis Eliot, the diffident protagonist of the Strangers and Brothers sequence, retreats to the background in this absorbing study of his mentor, George Passant, a charismatic solicitor’s clerk.

In the years of economic depression between the wars, George – an idealistic radical bursting with notions of creating the world anew – gathers about him a group of young people who, restive and ambitious, trust him to emancipate them from the constraints of their provincial lives. But when his lofty aspirations become muddied with a need for money and desire for sexual freedom, his power over the group becomes a danger to them all.

Politics, people and the rapidly changing social landscape of inter-war Britain are narrated with Snow’s trademark subtlety and precision in this fascinating analysis of a god with feet of clay.

A meticulous study of the public issues and private problems of post-war Britain, C. P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers sequence is a towering achievement that stands alongside Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time as one of the great romans-fleuves of the twentieth century.

One of the best novels produced in England in my time

Frank O'Connor - Spectator

Conducted with a sympathetic impartiality and a calm integrity of observation that are reflected in a style at once matter-of-fact and sensitively precise

Desmond MacCarthy - Sunday Times

A remarkable book . . . the work of a man of wide intelligence and sympathy

Edwin Muir - The Listener