LUCIFER FALLING by Terence de Vere White


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Lucifer Falling a rather tiresome academic novel, occasionally enlivened by the author's flair for the epigrammatic, which describes the decline and fall of a Dublin university professor who, for twenty years, has occupied, without sufficient Justification, a chair of modern literature, bequeathed to him by a late 19th century poet and critic whose own standing depended more on intellectual bullying than ability. As Edward Jameson's protege and confidant, Arnold Power has been expected to produce the definitive work on Jameson but instead he has relied on his facile and showy performance as a speaker to sustain a flagging career, in the meantime publishing nothing. When he, in turn, is threatened by the intellectual challenge of a boorish but supposedly brilliant student, Trevor Grey, Power panics. By virtue of his position he has been forced to become a champion of Jameson whom he has always suspected of being a fraud. Now, confronted by Grey, he must either defend Jameson--an impossible task, or ally himself with his young enemy. The conflict is too great and Power cracks up at a public lecture, afterwards killing Grey. de Vere White's precise and studied prose is calculated to attach a great deal more importance to these characters than would seem to be their due. (His example of Grey's intellectual daring, for instance, is a proposed attack on Pound and Hemingway.) By contrast, the abruptness of his ending suggests that tedium finally overcame the author as well.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1967
Publisher: World