The aftermath of terror has, perhaps, its most grotesque and tragic ramifications in children. Wrenched from their families...

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THE GAME AND THE GROUND

The aftermath of terror has, perhaps, its most grotesque and tragic ramifications in children. Wrenched from their families and cities, they wander aimlessly over the land, unguided and unloved. An experimental camp in a Middle European country that has witnessed state control, war and plunder has been set up by Dr. Eric and his brother who attempt to revitalize the warped and suffering children placed there by Society. The adults plan to instil spontaneity of thought and behavior, to refurbish the conditions of existence and to rehearse a life of freedom. The entrance of the third brother, Nicky, a glamorous hero-symbol, upsets the delicate equilibrium which had been established, by encouraging hero-worship, discipline, and power struggles --values which were responsible for the moral and political degeneration enforced upon, and entrusted to, the children. The presentation of incompatible value systems, generates confusion and fear and necessitates a choice. Nicky's murder sparks a temporary rebellion which resolves itself into a general catharsis for all. The adults have chosen and the children have chosen. Perhaps there is some hope for the future, though futurity is yet a meaningless concept. The subject matter demands a stark and empirical transcription which Mr. Vansittart has brilliantly answered. He captures the primitive speech of the savage children whose origin is indeterminate and language unrecognizable. Individual references to a past splendour, to an unknown mountain, to horrors of the wars, to legends and superstitions of another day, collect and synthesize with the background of the camp and community. The abruptness of style, beautiful as a desert is beautiful, combines with an inherently compassionate subject and results in a startling novel with many levels of meaning and subtlety.

Pub Date: April 16, 1957

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Abelard-Schuman

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1957