“The world was a dangerous place – that was the open secret a younger generation of Englishmen resolutely refused to learn…” Thomas C. Squire, founder of the Society for Popular Aesthetics, one time secret agent, a hedonist whose worldly success and self-confidence overshadow the lives of his family and friends, faces a mid-life crisis which undermines the stability of his ancient house. This brilliant and sometimes violent novel moves from England to Sicily, Singapore and Jugoslavia. Brian Aldiss’s first contemporary novel embodies the best characteristics of his Horatio Stubbs trilogy, his poetry and his science fiction: wit, compassion, a fine turn of phrase and consummate skill in storytelling.
A complex and argumentative drama built about the axes of Thomas Squire’s attendance at an imaginary contemporary ARTS symposium in Sicily, his extramarital and marital relationships, and his past as a secret agent in Jugoslavia, a land caught between East and West. Includes several humorous portraits of national types.
FIRST EDITION: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980