THE MADONNA OF THE ASTROLABE by J.I.M. Stewart

THE MADONNA OF THE ASTROLABE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

When he's not being Sir John Appleby's Michael Innes, Stewart can often be found reveling in his donnish Oxford surroundings, sometimes in the narrating guise of aged-seeming but only middle-aging playwright Duncan Pattullo. Pattullo has recently left theatrical London for a return to academia, and here he drily connects with a common-roomful of ivy-covered dilemmas: should a boisterous undergraduate be allowed to stage Tamburlaine outdoors, a demanding and perhaps dangerous proposition? can the university find funds to repair a sacred crumbling tower? are there art treasures lying about--perhaps a priceless Piero--waiting for a look-see from visiting experts? Less ho-hum are the quivering tensions and memories brought on by the coincidental Oxford visit of Duncan's ex-wife Penny. Remember that newlywedded summer in Italy with the two dessicated homosexuals and the sensual sailor boys, one of whom cavorted with Penny for all to see? And is Penny still as insatiable as ever, now taking up with those incredibly decorative twin-brother students? Punting and picnicking on the river, mourning the death of an ancient don, keeping his classical allusions as separate as possible from contemporary tawdriness, Pattullo is pensive but sharp-edged perambulating company. ""How delightful to find that you younger men still know your Yeats!"" is the order of day, a day that has passed for most readers but still has its moments--of wit, charm, and antimacassared eroticism--while moving languorously towards sunset.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1977
Publisher: Norton