THE FACE BESIDE THE FIRE by Laurens Van der Post


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A dark overlay for the delayed fulfillment of David Alexander Michael john reflects much of the sensitivity and fascination of Voyage To The Interior but is disappointing in its lack of fictional techniques. David's childhood is shadowed by the money he had supposedly stolen; his father's death brings about submerged and secret terrors; he runs away from his mother's determined efforts to force him into the Church; he finds fame in London with his painting. But marriage to older, inflexible Helena diverts his career and negates his personality, drives him into his father's drinking pattern and finally sends him back to his mother in South Africa through a fixation that she is in trouble. Finding her quite all right, his ship voyage home introduces him to Alis Denysse -- who has been looking for him all her life -- gives him an incentive for the future and a total recap of self psychoanalysis. This clears up all his problems and he is ready to meet Alis' father obstructionism and promise Alis a life together. Told by David's devoted friend, Alec, this has its best moments in the early years in South Africa, tries the patience on the downgrade and ends up on a long, hard couch of intimate flagellation. A careful documentation of intense concentration, this is redeemed by some magic, retarded by an overworked mumbo-jumbo.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1953
Publisher: Morrow