ADCLIFFE by David Storey


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David Storey's young literary life has something in common with Alan Sillitoe's; both share a working class background although Storey's work, while reflecting it, has not been confined to the proletarian novel; both have had comparable book-film successes (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and This Sporting Life). This new book, which has a certain visceral energy and a smoldering power, has earned some ambitious comparisons in England (Dostoevski; Bronte) although it is certainly guilty of excesses, many of them too coarse for the average reader to accept. The novel deals with the relationship between Leonard Radcliffe, the ascetic, aristocratic son of an also somewhat austere man who has withdrawn from the world, and Victor Tolson, a workman, with a powerful assertiveness and a bullnecked animal attraction. They meet first in school, later on a construction job where to Radcliffe, Tolson is ""the only real touch I have on things"". The ""real touch"" is soon mired in uglier and uglier situations: Tolson's relationship with another homosexual, Blakeley, (a married man who has also had three children by his own daughter); Tolson's seduction of Radcliffe's sister; and finally Radcliffe's own acquiescence, in which the submission of the flesh is knowingly a violation of the spirit. The book ends, inevitably, with Tolson's murder, whom Radcliffe bludgeons to death, less inevitably with a battue which includes Blakeley's murder of his daughter, their children, and his own suicide.....The harsh Yorkshire countryside is a graphic background for a novel which, sometimes crude, sometimes ravaged, has a blunt, brute effectiveness.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1964
Publisher: oward-McCann