Modern English literature
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unable to sustain it for more than a scene or a temporary interchange. Her first novel, Under the Net (1954), fits into the humorous pattern set by Kingsley Amis in Lucky Jim (1954) and John Wain in Hurry on Down (1953). Her Jack Donaghue of this novel is akin to Amis's Jim Dixon and Wain's Charles Lumley, in that he maintains his own kind of somewhat dubious integrity and tries to make his way without forsaking his dignity, and increasingly difficult accomplishment in a world which offers devilish rewards for loss of integrity and dignity.
Jake is angry middle-aged man who mocks society and its respectability. He moves playfully around law and order; he does small things on the sly- swims in the Thames at night, steals the performing dog, sneaks in and out of locked apartments, steals food. He is a puerile existence in which he remains "pure" even while carrying on his adolescent activities.
The dangers of this type of hero, indeed of this kind of novel, are apparent, for when the humour begins to run low, the entire piece becomes childish. In Lucky Jim, we saw that as the humorous invention lost vigor, the novel became enfeebled because it had nothing else to draw upon. In her first novel as well as in The Flight from the Enchanter (1956) and The Bell (1958), Miss Murdoch unfortunately was enable to sustain the humour, and the novels frequently decline into triviality.
Another danger that Miss Murdoch has not avoided is that of creating characters who are suitable only for the comic situations but for little else. When they must rise to a more serious response, their triteness precludes real change. This fault is especially true of the characters in The Flight from the Enchanter, a curious mixture of the frivolous and serious.
The characters are keyed low for the comic passages but too low to permit any rise when the situation evidently demands it. The comic novel usually is receptive to a certain scattering of the seed, while a serious novel calls for intensity of characterisation and almost an entirely different tone.Скачать