This is a marvellously intense and sombre novel. It describes the obsessive love-hate relationship between two very different men, Leonard Radcliffe and Victor Tolson - a relationship at the same time cruelly brutal and painfully tender. Its description of passion as destruction is one that will haunt the reader for a very long time. A great book.
I revisited it after some 45 years and wonder how on earth I finished it (if I did) back then. It is, I suppose, a "gay novel". Written in 1963 when such things were not mentioned, let alone written about. Yes there is sex, after a fashion, with man-on-man kissing, and, I suppose quite explicit scenarios for its pre-Stonewall time - "between his lips he pressed the swollen mound of flesh". But the whole work is riddled with angst, guilt, madness and total self doubt, as befitted those times when being gay was regarded as being sick. There is one mention of the word "homosexual" but for the most part the protagonists' behaviour is cloaked in annoying mystery and hard to fathom actions - I kept asking myself "what is happening?". Needless to say it ends in one of them beating the other to death with a claw hammer and then being confined to hospital. There could be no happy outcome for gays in those days.
Overall the prose is highly overblown and the book would benefit from being reduced by half with excising the elaborate metaphors which continually reminded me of Les Dawson at his most exuberant.