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Hemlock and After [Hardcover]

Angus Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Dec 1952
A novel about one mans life and career. The main theme is the contradiction between the need for authority and the distaste for power. It is also the choice between fighting cruelty and falsehood by passive resistance or by direct action.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd; First Edition edition (Dec 1952)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0436575035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0436575037
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,919,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

One of Britain's most distinguished novelists Sir Angus Wilson was born in 1913. Educated at Westminster and Merton College, Oxford he joined the British Museum as a cataloguer before being called for service in 1941. His literary career began with a collection of short-stories published in 1949. These were followed by other short-story collections, novels and plays. Co-founder with Malcolm Bradbury of the MA programme in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Wilson was appointed professor in 1967. Chair of many literary panels, including the Booker prize, and campaigner for homosexual equality he was knighted in 1980. He died in 1991. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of temptation and ambiguity 27 April 2008
Classic novel from 1952: Lead character Bernard Sands is a successful novelist, about to launch a grandiose scheme to assist young writers. Bernard has sincere humanitarian inclinations, though his personal life is
shambolic. He is homosexual, his wife is suffering from severe depression,
their relationship with their adult children is cold and superficial.
Angus Wilson's style is a delight to read, wondrous eye for detail with some superb descriptive passages, and also exposes the hollowness of contempary mores and values. The dialogue is very witty. The insight into the lives of homosexual men during this era is fascinating.( The homosexual characters get beyond the standard caricatures employed in many novels and possess great depth. )
Yet the great theme of the novel is temptation. Bernard Sands is made to realise his own sadistic drives, various other characters fall prey to their own weaknesses and risk getting exploited by a gang of local blackmailers whose leader preaches a sickly message of sweetness and light.
There is so much in this novel; I had to skim read it first time round and then read it all over again at a slow pace in order to fully appreciate its worth. But it is excellent.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drink it, it's good for you, it's medicine! 8 Nov 2012
By propertius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you suffer from homophobia, misogyny, a mind numbing loathing of middle class hypocrisy, or just want to smile at the human condition then this small purchase is just the thing.

Angus Wilson is cut from the same cloth as Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh and Max Beerbohm. This author was first suggested to me by my English mentor forty years ago and the ensuing years have done little to diminish its impact.

Unlike much of "gay" literature of the past twenty five years, Mr. Wilson describes a life style that has been trivialized recently. Of course a caveat is in order here. This book is about middle class English attitudes which we Yanks will have to adjust to. To be brief, a cure for homophobia - well Bernard Sands is not what would normally be expected by an American audience. He is married, has fathered a family, and with a tacit and unremarked consent of his wife, has lived a dual life. It is only at the end of the book that he chooses one. And I feel he is happy with the past as well as the future.

Ella his wife is not the betrayed harridan, nor the suffering saint. Her love for her husband in all its aspects is amply illustrated and explains most of her past actions and present day stances. By heavens they still do lovingly respect each other.

Of course Angus Wilson satirizes the British middle as only a Britain can do, even though he is Scottish. He captures the times so endearingly well. Would the establishment of a student-artist hostel cause such a uproar today? Read it for the host of characters that have such a ring of authenticity that you will believe you know them personally.

A rare complex wine that gets better with age.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful 16 Aug 2008
By Paul C. Weeks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thing this novel poses the interesting question: Is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reason, or is it better to do nothing at all? I very much enjoyed the book and have kept it in my library for rereading.
1 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pompous & Boring 29 Mar 2007
By Todd A. Ostler - Published on Amazon.com
I did not like this book at all. Granted that the author comes from a social class I do not like, but his writing fails to appeal to me when other books on upper classes do appeal to me.
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