THE EXPERIENCE by Cecil Hemley


Email this review


The prose style, in this first novel by a practising poet, is adopted from recent French novels -- and it fits the characters awkwardly. The subject is redemption by religious experience, and the unlikely receiver is George, a rich, dilettante lawyer, whose trials are related by his hard-working friend and partner. George, under the influence of a mystically- minded Countess, is sure he has had an experience. Since George has already had psychoanalysis, hi-fi, marriage, a child and a nice suburban home, no one takes this very seriously until George leaves his job and his wife to begin writing- presumably about his experience. His wife promptly tries experience too- with other men including the narrator. Up to this point, the book has wry- even comic- possibilities-- who has not known a George, or a Countess, for that matter? But then George apparently does have a genuine experience, resigns from the world, and is accepted by the other characters as a sort of reluctantly-believed-in Buddha. Even this serious twist is basically valid, but the characters no longer seem able to sustain the weight of seriousness of the theme- or the author- or the style. What New York City lawyer really talks like a Camus character?

Pub Date: March 14th, 1960
Publisher: Horizon