Thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion so far, and to all our guest posters. I’m back in harness for The Thuggery Affair
, which happens to be one of my favourite Marlows novels (possibly a minority opinion). It’s probably the most Marmite of the series, anyway. Prepared to be polarised.
This novel has the most threatening dedication that I think I’ve ever read: ‘To Anthony C./who asked for it/(in more ways than one).' Lawks. I’d start running, now
. Anyone know who Anthony C. was, and if he survived to tell the tale?
The Acknowledgements seem to express some dubiety over the authorship of ‘I saw a man this morning.’ I’ve never seen it attributed to anyone other than Shaw-Stewart. Tim Kendall has a nice little blogpost about him here
. Written into his copy of A Shropshire Lad
! Proposing non-penetrative sexytimes with Lady Diana Manners (in the classical tongues)! Adorable.
Forest’s note on the temporal flexibility of the series raises more questions than it answers, I think. Published in 1965, The Thuggery Affair
is the first novel in which the setting has notably shifted from a vague late 40s/50s to (rather self-conscious) contemporaneity with publication. Though End of Term
and Peter’s Room
were published in 1959 and 1961 respectively, there’s nothing very much stopping readers seeing them as essentially continuous with the 1948 in which Falconer’s Lure
is explicitly set. Thuggery
, however, is fairly emphatically situated in 1964: it’s set at spring half term, and the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ (released August 1963) is playing on the radio. Forest’s note is dated September 1964.
This effect will be a substantial feature of the series from here on, and I’m interested to hear what people think of it. On the other hand, the setting of the series heretofore has not been all that rigorously accurate, something to which Forest (inadvertently?) draws attention in her note to Thuggery
: ‘(who cares that clothes and sweets still had to be rationed in 1947?).’ Well, as several people pointed out in the discussion of Autumn Term
, sweets aren’t rationed in that novel’s version of 1947 (Tim is first seen munching chocolate), and though there is mention of Kingscote’s navy uniform being a utility measure in the early novels, clothes rationing (as opposed to Marlow ‘poverty’) doesn’t seem to be a significant factor in the Marlows’ sartorial lives. Is there even one mention of coupons? In my experience of grandparently Second World War (and immediate postwar) reminiscence, coupons loom very, very large. So in a sense, the Marlows have always existed in an alternate universe. Slightly oddly, to my mind, Forest seems to see Peter’s continued attendance at Dartmouth as a major difficulty: I find that relatively easy to accept as a fudge, whereas (for example) Nicola and Lawrie’s birthdate shifting from 1935 to 1951 requires for me a larger suspension of disbelief. Peter will be relieved to know that his author thinks his expulsion from Dartmouth is ‘unlikely’, though. She seems more confident about the matter than he is.
This blog post
is well worth a read, for its thoughts about language in the novel, and also for the priceless reflection that
Online reviews bear this out by talking constantly about how difficult the language of the “thuggery” is—to the extent that this particular quirk of the book has almost overshadowed the fact that the book is about drug-running pigeons.
For so it is, and any implausibilities in its portrayal of youth culture do rather pale beside the fact that this is a novel about drug-running pigeons
It’s also the first and only book in which Nicola does not appear, and I wonder how that affects people’s reading of it? Anyway, here goes.( Chapter 1: 'There’s a Hole in your Boatie' )( Chapter 2: 'Two Pigeons Flying High' )( Chapter 3: A Gentleman of the Fancy )( Chapter 4: '...Poor Airy Post' )
That's it from me: have at it!