TWO BROTHERS by Philip Toynbee


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In Pantaloon, a previous book-length poem, Philip Toynbee movingly described an old man's boyhood. The present book is a sequel of sorts, also written in blank verse, in which the same old man recalls himself and his brother, wandering through Europe and Egypt in the 1930's. The method, however, has changed; and though the author defends and explains it in a long introduction, it is much less successful. His attempt to reproduce the actual meanderings of an old man's mind, omitting story or cause and effect, results in an extremely jumbled and private series of impressions. Europe is conveyed chiefly through a hodge-podge of place names, unexplained characters, foreign phrases, cryptic actions (largely minor); and even the blank verse, which was brooding and evocative in Pantaloon, is often jumpy or merely murky here. It may well be meaningful to those of that generation, but to those who lack the key and clue, these names and landscapes embedded in a sometimes splendid poetry have something of the confusion of some else's dream, told over the breakfast table.

Publisher: Harper & Row