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The death of innocence,
This review is from: The Go-Between (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
First published in 1953, in this book Leo looks back to the summer of 1900 when he turned thirteen and was as full of optimism as the new century. Invited to stay at Brandham Hall by a school friend, he allows himself to get embroiled with the adults whose behaviour he simply isn't equipped to understand. And as the temperature rises, so over-heated emotions turn to a tragedy which will mark Leo's entire life.
This is a brilliant portrayal of a boy's first brush with the complexities of the adult world (we should remember that youth was far younger then than it is now). The blind and youthful confidence of Leo echoes that of the century, certainly the `ruling classes', having a final high-point before the devastation of the first world war sweeps away at least some of the old social certainties.
But at heart this is as much a novel about the clash of innocence and experience as it is about the old and dawning twentieth century worlds. Leo's artless relationships with the beautiful Marian, the scarred and gentlemanly viscount, and the charismatic village farmer Ted Burgess lead him to participate in, and even try to manipulate, a situation which is increasingly out of control.
It is worth recognising that this draws on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde where Pandarus describes himself as a 'go-between' ('meene' in middle English), an allusion which serves to complicate our reading of Hartley's novel and which poses interesting questions about the characters.
Beautifully-crafted and imagined, this is a fine study of lost innocence and haunting betrayal.