This is a curious, clever, but somewhat inconclusive, satire about an eccentric literary great man, his friends, and their life on an exotic island. The tone is an elegant, somewhat old-fashioned, sophistication, vaguely reminiscent of Norman Douglas' South Wind and its weary, naughty, odd people. Philip Sparrow (like Robert Graves) is obsessed with ancient cults and rituals and writes poetry and historical novels about Greece and Rome. How much of this identification is intended is a valid question, since little happens in this book besides witty and destructive analyses of Philip and his court. Philip's daughter, Emily, reacting aginst his paganism, tries to embrace Catholicism. His sons are allowed to drift. Philip expounds his theories and is challenged by a young poet, William. (Since William later reaches an Understanding with Emily, he is presumably the Sympathetic Character- but Philip ignores him generally.) The eccentric home life, described in full, winds up with a mammoth party in Philip's honor, at which numerous perversions come to view, and after which Philip's youngest son nearly kills himself in Philip's favorite pagan ritual. Much of this is fairly entertaining, and there is some real poetry in the handling, but the intention behind it all is puzzling.