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The Fourth of June

The Fourth of June [Kindle Edition]

David Benedictus
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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'Brilliantly clever . . . mercilessly funny.' - Kenneth Allsop, Daily Mail

'One of the most brilliantly written books since the war.' - Ian Fleming, Sunday Times

'[A] clever and pitiless novel.' - Neil Ascherson, Observer

'[An] extremely promising and funny first novel.' - New Yorker

'I laughed until I cried. Benedictus is a dazzling new wit and a blazing new talent.' - Patrick Dennis

David Benedictus was only twenty-three when his shock-filled, highly controversial first novel was published in 1962. In The Fourth of June, Benedictus shows what it was like to have attended Eton College, one of England's most prestigious schools. Among its hallowed buildings, a boy is savagely beaten into paralysis by his House Captain, a bishop spends his evening spying on a chaplain's half-dressed daughter, and a housemaster is seduced by a desperate mother. Condemned by some reviewers as a farrago of sex, snobbery, and sadism, The Fourth of June nonetheless met with rave reviews from other critics, who proclaimed Benedictus one of the most promising new novelists of his generation, and went on to be a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic.

This new edition, the first in more than 30 years, includes an introduction by the author.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 675 KB
  • Print Length: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Valancourt Books (28 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D38NQN4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #345,755 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Writer David Benedictus adapted and produced the audio adaptations of Winnie-the-Pooh starring Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Jane Horrocks. His second novel was filmed by Francis Ford Coppola. He has worked as assistant to Trevor Nunn at the RSC, was Commissioning Editor for Drama series at Channel 4, and ran The Book At Bedtime for BBC Radio. He is the author of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood the authorised follow-up to The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The snobbery, the fagging, the bullying... 14 Sep 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This novel, published in 1962, caused a great deal of controversy at the time. It exposed the internal workings of the British public school system: the snobbery, the fagging, the bullying, the incipient homosexuality, the beatings, and the conferment of power upon boys over other boys. The fact that most city men, academics, industrialists, politicians, churchmen, and members of every profession of the time went through some or other variant of the public school system leads one to think that the novel might have been one of the instruments that began the breakdown of some of these traditions. That these traditions continue to produce the nation's professional leaders, to a certain extent at least, has one quaking in one's boots for the future.

More than just a rocket up the arse of the establishment, however, this novel is comic as well as witty and the balance between the author's stripping away of the pretences surrounding public school practices and his sense of humour is finely preserved. It is a subtle book for all it is also revelatory, for one comes to feel some sympathy with the boys - some of those who perpetuate the system unthinkingly are not culpable, or not necessarily so. Perhaps the viciousness of the public school system and its reliance on tradition and privilege was merely a symptom of the inflated egos of an establishment that has since disappeared? I very much doubt that the snobbery has abated much, however, because above all of the faults here depicted, this seems to me to be both the most pernicious and prevailing.

The novel is beautifully written with a fine eye for comic circumstances and a delicate ear for what passes for wit and sarcasm among public schoolboys. Characters are very well established and even the comic ones are believable. There is some excellent writing, particularly the set-piece of the climax of the fourth of June celebrations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A groundbreaking classic 21 Aug 2013
It's hard to imagine the society in which this was published. If you wanted a radical view of public schools, 'Goodbye Mr Chips' was about as far as it went. They were the unquestioned bastions of excellence in education, fostering world leaders, captains of business, culture and the media. Of all public schools, Eton was the very acme of empire and establishment. And in the days before Anderson's 'If', Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python, the words' 'empire and establishment' could be said without irony.
This book changed that and was one of many small shifts in direction that made the Sixties swing and built modern Britain.
A brilliant debut from a young novelist who went on to produce many other notable, but largely under-appreciated, books, The Fourth of June exploded the myth of power associated with public schools and with Eton in particular, a world where institutionalised bullying and privilege is assumed to create character, loyalty and integrity. It is a very human tale, touching and unsensational, but scalpel-sharp in its writing and satire.
Although it is something of a period piece, its re-release is incredibly timely. Once again, Old Etonians hold the highest positions in government and Michael Gove's policies hail a return to the educational values of the 1950s - values that this book does much to discredit.
This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how both culture and education got to where they are today - and where they might go if left unchecked.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fourth of June 8 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Benedictus was obviously a schoolboy at Eton. I do not think he liked the college much, and one beak I know did not like Mr Benedictus very miuch either, but the book is superb.
Jeremy Taylor.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 21 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's style and language is old-fashioned to the 2014 reader and at times made me squirm. Were housemasters in such a famous institution so spineless and inept? Undoubtedly it is revealing, indeed shocking about life in a famous public school and I found it mildly amusing at times but not having endured this kind of education in my youth, I cannot rave about it as other reviewers have done. To allow older schoolboys such unsupervised powers of corporal punishment over their younger charges beggars belief.
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4.0 out of 5 stars PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE 1950'S/60'S 17 Aug 2011
I enjoyed reading this book.I first read it in the 1960's when it came out, and at that stage it was not so controversial as the practices depicted happened, and every pupil in public schools knew they happened,nowadays everything is much more politically correct, and the corporal punishments inflicted by the prefects on the younger boys seems very barbaric. The novel depicts the power of senior pupils, and the fact that they were often more powerful than the housemaster,who were meant to be the final arbitrator of punishments within their jurisdiction,but were often not.
Good short read about one of the famous celebrations in the life of Eton College.This book is no longer printed, but if you like a modern tale on life in a public school,then it is well worth the search
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