A rather alien first novel spends a few months with Mark Prager, Polish born, a refugee with a job as a working physicist in Cambridge. Emotionally since the war, Marck, is a wasteland figure with a glum Weltanschaung- ""the only reason for being alive is that we are not dead"". This, coupled with his appearance-""like a "" accounts for the fact that he has not too many friends (an artist, Guido, a colleague) or lovers. In fact now at thirty he has for the first time some non-professional associations and these are handled in Joycean terms but unappetizing detail; Barbara, from down, with a sluggish disposition and placid sensuality; then the more ambiguous and Christina who shares his life through most of the novel here. Finally he her, along with the book he had once written, and any dreams and hopes he might entertain... Non commitment is bad enough, but abnegation is worse, in view of any possible reader response. And although there are scenes and passages with a intensity the tone of voice is indeed disconsolate.