Read The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton Free Online
Book Title: The Slaves of Solitude|
The author of the book: Patrick Hamilton
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1298 times
Reader ratings: 6.9
Date of issue: August 24th 2006
ISBN 13: 9781845294151
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 11.67 MB
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Anyone who actually listens to my opinions and bases their library picks on my star ratings (hi, mom!) deserves to know what the unusual fifth star represents. My stars make zero effort at even an obviously subjective judgment of how "good" I think a book is. Instead, the fourth star is a measure of how much I personally enjoy a book and find it engaging, while my elusive fifth star is granted when I feel a book has made enough of an impression on me that it's demonstrably changed my life.
I honestly don't know that I've ever related as much to a character in a book as I did to Miss Roach in The Slaves of Solitude. In a way, that seems like a crazily personal thing to admit to strangers and loved ones on the internet, but I suppose that horse escaped from the barn a long time ago.... While I'm making inappropriately intimate online pronouncements, I'll reveal that I read this on Christmas, which perhaps not incidentally was the day of an annual break-down-and-cry-noisily-for-forty-minutes-or-so-in-the-empty-bathtub- whilst-suddenly-overcome-by-the-immutable-inevitability-of-human-loneliness - sort-of-existential-crisis little thing that can happen sometimes around the holidays when I don't wind up going over to the Cratchits' for figgy pudding and make the mistake of staying home alone.... Anyways, this Christmas, after I finally stopped sobbing and decided to pull myself out of the tub and put some clothes on and try to behave like an ordinary atheistic Jew with plenty of lovely friends and a wonderful family and no right at all to freak out on such a ridiculous occasion, I was overcome with gratitude towards Patrick Hamilton for so perfectly conveying that very sense of inescapable and excruciating loneliness from which we all spend 364 days of the year trying to shield ourselves.... Thank heavens I had the rest of this book to turn to on that awful day! Of course, later on, it occurred to me that Mr. Hamilton's novel might have been at least partially responsible not just for pulling me out of my Yuletide meltdown, but also for pushing me into it, so maybe I needn't have felt so grateful.... Still. Even if the book was the cause and not just the cure, is that really so bad? It's probably healthful to confront, on occasion, one's unavoidable, soul-crushing solitude, and there are doubtless worse ways to get there -- and back -- than this wonderful book.
Okay, so I need to admit the possibility that another reader might emerge a bit perplexed from a foray into Slaves of Solitude, scratching his or her head and saying, "Well, Jessica, it's not bad or anything, it's fine, but it is sort of the book version of one of those weird, stiff, old colorless BBC comedies that are kind of oddly funny in that strange British way that neither of us really get because we're American. Isn't it true that you've got your knickers (so to speak) in a twist over some shriveled up Limeys crankily insulting one another over boiled meat?" And yeah, I mean, I guess Slaves of Solitude is kind of like that. It's set in a boarding house during World War II, in a tiny suburban village where our heroine Miss Roach has gone to escape from London during the Blitz. That is pretty old BBC comedy already, yeah?
Please do not be fooled by the New York Review Books' sexy, stylish cover! No one in this book is good-looking or has any allure whatsoever, at all. This is a novel about drab, miserable people who are trapped in their cramped and uncomfortable sad little lives. Most of the novel is Ms. Roach being bullied by the villainous dull, pompous, elderly Mr. Thwaits, over shitty WWII-era English dinners in the boarding house dining room. The unattractively aging Ms. Roach chokes down unremitting rounds of "gin and french" with her American Lieutenant and German frenemy; she takes the train to and from work, and stolidly, despairingly, quietly, bravely, gets up day after bleak, hungover, blacked-out day of an indeterminable war, an indeterminable life.... ughhhh..... I mean, I suppose it's sort of bleak, in a way. But it's also pretty funny! Ha ha! Oh, I loved it. Someone else should read this and tell me if it's at all as great as I thought it was, or if it just really struck a chord for some reason. I honestly can't remember the last time I related to strongly to any character in fiction! It also provided some perspective. I mean, at least we're not in the middle of a world war at the moment, right? Jesus.... Also, this has some of the best descriptions I've read of what it's like to be drinking a lot, around other people who're also drinking a lot, and everyone's just so miserable and exhausted and awful.... Great!
Okay, so here's a wonderful excerpt, in which Hamilton puts the experience of waking up in the morning in a singularly harsh new light:
Even then the guests did not wake into full life. Instead, there was a dazed period in which each guest, turning in bed, renewed his acquaintanceship with his own problems and the fact that a war was being waged all over the world, and, finally rising and flinging back the curtains, contemplated the awful scene of wreckage caused by his sleep. The feeling of the morning after the night before is not a sensation endured by the dissolute only: every morning, for every human being, is in some sort a morning after the night before: the dissolute merely experience it in a more intense degree. There is an air of debauch about tossed bed-clothes, stale air, cold hot-water bottles, and last night's cast-off clothing, from which even the primmest of maiden ladies cannot hope to escape. Sleep is gross, a form of abandonment, and it is impossible for anyone to awake and observe its sordid consequences save with a faint sense of recent dissipation, of minute personal disquiet and remorse. (pp 62-63)
AAARGHH!!! If you don't think that's great, you're a nutball!
I'm gonna read Hangover Square next. I can't wait!
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Read information about the authorHe was born Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton in the Sussex village of Hassocks, near Brighton, to writer parents. Due to his father's alcoholism and financial ineptitude, the family spent much of Hamilton's childhood living in boarding houses in Chiswick and Hove. His education was patchy, and ended just after his fifteenth birthday when his mother withdrew him from Westminster School.
After a brief career as an actor, he became a novelist in his early twenties with the publication of Monday Morning (1925), written when he was nineteen. Craven House (1926) and Twopence Coloured (1928) followed, but his first real success was the play Rope (1929, known as Rope's End in America).
The Midnight Bell (1929) is based upon Hamilton's falling in love with a prostitute, and was later published along with The Siege of Pleasure (1932) and The Plains of Cement (1934) as the semi-autobiographical trilogy 20,000 Streets Under the Sky (1935).
Hamilton disliked many aspects of modern life. He was disfigured badly when he was run over by a car in the late 1920s: the end of his novel Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse (1953), with its vision of England smothered in metal beetles, reflects his loathing of the motor car. However, despite some distaste for the culture in which he operated, he was a popular contributor to it. His two most successful plays, Rope and Gas Light (1938, known as Angel Street in the USA), made Hamilton wealthy and were also successful as films: the British-made Gaslight (1940) and the 1944 American remake, and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948).
Hangover Square (1941) is often judged his most accomplished work and still sells well in paperback, and is regarded by contemporary authors such as Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd as an important part of the tradition of London novels. Set in Earls Court where Hamilton himself lived, it deals with both alcohol-drinking practices of the time and the underlying political context, such as the rise of fascism and responses to it. Hamilton became an avowed Marxist, though not a publicly declared member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. During the 1930's, like many other authors, Hamilton grew increasingly angry with capitalism and, again like others, felt that the violence and fascism of Europe during the period indicated that capitalism was reaching its end: this encouraged his Marxism and his novel Impromptu in Moribundia (1939) was a satirical attack of capitalist culture.
During his later life, Hamilton developed in his writing a misanthropic authorial voice which became more disillusioned, cynical and bleak as time passed. The Slaves of Solitude (1947), was his only work to deal directly with the Second World War, and he preferred to look back to the pre-war years. His Gorse Trilogy - three novels about a devious sexual predator and conman - are not generally well thought of critically, although Graham Greene said that the first was 'the best book written about Brighton' and the second (Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse) is regarded increasingly as a comic masterpiece. The hostility and negativity of the novels is also attributed to Hamilton's disenchantment with the utopianism of Marxism and depression. The trilogy comprises The West Pier (1952); Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse (1953), dramatized as The Charmer in 1987; and in 1955 Hamilton's last published work, Unknown Assailant, a short novel much of which was dictated while Hamilton was drunk. The Gorse Trilogy was first published in a single volume in 1992.
Hamilton had begun to consume alcohol excessively while still a relatively young man. After a declining career and melancholia, he died in 1962 of cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure, in Sheringham, Norfolk. He was married twice, firstly to Lois Marie Martin in 1930, and a year after divorcing Lois, to Lady Ursula Chetwynd-Talbot in 1954.
--Wikipedia January 9, 2010
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