THE HALF GODS by Charles G. Bell


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This ambitious book is actually more a chronicle of our recent past than a novel. The method is associative and fragmentary, drawing on the protagonist's youthful journals, on letters and sporadic recollections of the central characters and on bits and pieces of history incorporated into the narrative. Daren Leflore is intended to be the man for all seasons: a southern aristocrat with a background out of Faulkner (to whom the style is indebted) and Williams; an aesthete at Oxford between the wars; an atomic research physicist; an imprisoned C.O. in W.W. II; a hostile and witness before the O'Malley investigation; and eventually, a civil rights protester hosed down in Alabama. There are two women in his life -- Anna, an old line Communist from Chicago, very much a cliche from yesteryear, and Jeffrey, a representation of old world refinement and dotty English eccentricity. Through all of this Daren is writing, writing, and accumulating the material which forms The Half Gods. The prose style is dense and portentous; at its worst, pretentious, at its best, delivered in spurts of energetic directness. One gets the impression that the author has filled the book with all he knows, which may be more than the reader wants to find out without enrolling in a course on Great Thinkers of the Western World.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1968
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin