on 15 August 2015
The usual for C P Snow and the Strangers and Brothers series. A very high standard of writing, and as a novel is one of the few art forms where one knows exactly how a person is thinking (the Author) and Snow takes so much time to explain the protagonists thinking and ethics ,thereby exposing his own I enjoy his work very much. If anything he overdoes the thoughts behind the protagonists actions and speech but this still leaves an illuminating and enjoyable novel.
I still do not think he quite captures the dialog of either working class people or the middle classes quite accurately, which is a minor weakness in his writing. This becomes more apparent to me as the series moves into the 1960s, Also I would like to have seen more working class people in his novels , he tends to concentrate on the intellectuals and middle classes he knew so much better.
All the same another very good, almost great novel which I thoroughly enjoyed.
on 23 May 2012
CP Snow occupies a place in the front rank of popular authors and there is very much to enjoy in his Strangers and Brothers novel sequence, of which The Sleep of Reason is the penultimate entry. His prose is wonderfully elegant, if a little formal and with a faintly patrician air, modulated by the narrator`s sensibility as a self-proclaimed `man of the left`; his characters are believable; the storytelling is fluent and involving; and the plots are beautifully constructed. These qualities ensure his books are a satisfying pleasure to read and in all respects The Sleep of Reason, if rather darker than other of his writing, is entirely successful.
Here we are initially in the familiar CP Snow territory of domestic concerns and professional intrigues within the academic and political classes. The extra darkness comes in a literal sense from a medical condition threatening the narrator's sight and more figuratively through the peripheral involvement of an old friend in an appalling crime and the consequent disturbing trial, described at some length in the latter part of the book.
Published in 1968 though set some five years earlier, an incidental pleasure is the author's willingness to address the social and cultural shifts that had taken place in the period "between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP" and to attempt to reflect them in his plot and characterisation.
The whole Strangers and Brothers cycle is well worth your time, but each entry in the series stands alone and The Sleep of Reason is a superb novel which is, of itself, an immensely enjoyable and rewarding read.
on 27 July 2001
Although it has its moments, this isn't one of Snow's better books.
It is one of the "Strangers & Brothers" sequence of novels, like the other told in the first person by Lewis Eliot. Eliot was always a semi-autobiographical figure for Snow, but in this book, Snow really seems to be doing little more than putting events of his own recent life and times (e.g.nearly losing his sight and the moors murders) into a fictional form. The result is flabby and unsatisfying.