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Alms For Oblivion Vol I (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 3 May 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (3 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099561328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099561323
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Raven's unique vision of our times - classes battling, corruption raging, ideas flashing - is not only valid but valuable. He spins webs of chance, intrigue and wit to ensnare civilised values and trap the truth. It's high time we gave this very curious genius a loud, warm welcome." (David Hughes Mail on Sunday)

"A ready made cult waiting to be discovered" (Spectator)

"Cracking entertainment... Dangerously, deliciously addictive" (Daily Telegraph)

"Raven's gusto, the robustness of his style and his powerful, if quirky, intelligence all held me rapt" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Sparkling and fizzing... Raven has the mind of a cad and the pen of an angel" (Guardian)

Book Description

A dazzling sequence of novels about the English misbehaving at home and abroad

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr Me on 26 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Simon Raven's Alms For Oblivion series is especially brilliant. A very funny, very clever and very entertaining portrayal of a cast of (largely) loathsome upper- and upper-middle-class characters in post-war Britain. Not to everybody's tastes in his day, (a bit too fruity, fond of poking fun at some recognisable and humourless figures in high places, including many of his friends), then out of fashion in more recent years, he really deserves to be discovered by a new and younger audience, and enjoyed for they are among the best-written and most entertaining novels of the late 20th century. As good as Powell and Snow in their sweep, but far more fun. With the current public-school / aristocratic establishment they show how surprisingly little has changed. Above all though, Simon Raven was a brilliant writer and a first rate story-teller. Read one, you'll read them all.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on 27 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Raven's novel sequence "Alms for Oblivion" is often compared to that other great twentieth-century English roman-fleuve, his older contemporary Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time", although there are some significant differences. The twelve volumes of Powell's magnum opus are all narrated in the first person, in strict chronological sequence, by the author's alter ego Nicholas Jenkins. "Alms for Oblivion", by contrast, has no single narrator; indeed, of the four novels contained in Volume I only one, "Fielding Gray", is told in the first person (by the title character, who is perhaps the nearest Raven comes to an alter ego). There is no strict chronological sequence; "The Rich Pay Late", the first novel to be published, is set in 1956 against the backdrop of the Suez crisis, "Friends In Low Places" in 1959, "The Sabre Squadron" in 1952 and "Fielding Gray", chronologically the earliest novel of the sequence, during the last months of the war in 1945. The novels are all much more self-contained than those in "A Dance...."; "The Rich Pay Late", for example, reads brilliantly as a novel in its own right without reference to later volumes, whereas I would not really advise anyone to read "A Question of Upbringing", the opening instalment of "A Dance...." , independently without progressing to the rest of the sequence. Another difference is that Raven's writing is much more sexually explicit than Powell's, something possibly reflecting the difference in generation between the two men.

"The Rich Pay Late" deals with the efforts of two businessmen, Donald Salinger and Jude Holbrook, to acquire a controlling interest in "Strix", an influential economic journal, and Holbrook's attempt to blackmail Peter Morrison, a Conservative MP who has it in his power to block the takeover.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
The cover of this new edition gives a very poor indication of what to expect inside. Raven's intelligent, cynical novels conjure up a very different world to the comic-book one on the cover. Moreover, selling the books as "Volume 1" etc is misleading. Each novel stands alone and was published with a separate title. The first novel is "Fielding Gray", the eponymous hero being a sort of modern "Flashman". For reasons which I find baffling, this edition puts novel no 2, 'Sound the retreat', in the next collection. This voloume features the original nos 1, 3, 4 and 5. 3, 'The sabre sqaudron' is set in the world of post-war Gernmany, a suspense-filled story of intelligence which is incidentally also very funny. 4, 'The rich pay late' is written in the genre of the arty and social London world of publishing, and 5, 'Friends in low places', is a deliciously satirical political tale with plenty of seamy goings-on.

Raven wrote the books as a sequence, not a multi-volume saga of the type so beloved of large ladies with small dogs. They are, very definitely, the product of an author with a public shcool/ military background, a man of his time. The mood of the novels changes as history rolls forward, and the 'later' novels portray a different world to the early ones.

Each book is written in a different genre (a trick later employed by Terry Pratchett) and while there is an element of parody, each book also works as a proper comic novel. Fielding Gray is a novel of school and has all the elements we would expect of a pre-war account of public chool days, but seen through the prism of Raven's excoriating wit and cynicism.
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By Bertil Olin on 5 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
excellent
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bismarck on 20 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very prompt, excellent value
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