The Sleep of Reason

C. P. Snow

22 February 2018
304 pages


Sir Lewis Eliot returns to his hometown in the tenth, and penultimate, novel in the Strangers and Brothers sequence.

Although now mature in the world of affairs and in possession of a knighthood, the older Lewis has much to contend with – his eyesight is failing and a risky operation is on the horizon, his father is dying, and his old mentor, George Passant, has asked him to observe the trial of his niece – a young woman accused of the torture and murder of a child . . .

Written in the wake of the notorious Moors murders, The Sleep of Reason depicts an ageing generation struggling to understand the new, more permissive society of the 1960s, with great insight and sensitivity.

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.

Praise for the Strangers and Brothers sequence

“Together, the sequence presents a vivid portrait of British academic, political and public life. Snow was that rare thing, a scientist and novelist.” Jeffrey Archer, Guardian

“Balzacian masterpieces of the age” Philip Hensher, Telegraph

“Through [the Strangers and Brothers sequence] as in no other work in our time we have explored the inner life of the new classless class that is the 20th century Establishment” New York Times

“A very considerable achievement … It brings into the novel themes and locales never seen before (except perhaps in Trollope).” Anthony Burgess

“The most comprehensive, the most informative and, all in all, the most impressive portrait of modern England that any novelist has yet given us.” Michael Millgate, Commentary

It contemplates the passing of time, the slippage of power, the assertion of a new generation and the painful vagaries of human nature.
the book of his which I think is the most powerful, because it is so honest.