A Roman Marriage, by Brian Glanville; Against Entropy, by Michael Frayn; Casualties of Peace, by Edna O'Brien
The news has been out for some time now that London swings and a good part of England vibrates with it. Miniskirts are more minute and men’s hair shaggier than almost anywhere and the blank look seems at last to have triumphed over the eccentric nod, the respectable smile, and the canny eye. After the war years and the bleak period which followed them, a generation arose which based its conduct not on a rule or even a rebellion against rules, but on a rhetorical question: “What more have we got to lose?” Those who were once the angry young men have carried their irritation toward middle-age and left room for another lot who don’t, on the whole, seem mad at anyone. Their attitude is that things have gone beyond the stage where accusing fingers can be seriously pointed or threatening fists unselfconsciously shaken. The basic assumption among them is that everything is in an irreparable mess. To attempt reform or coherent criticism is to make the ultimate fool of oneself by revealing a naivete about the extent to which the deterioration has progressed. For this group, even political satire—an art at which the British have excelled for centuries—has begun to dwindle down to a harmless pastime. Jolly satirists giggle at themselves and sweeten their nasty thrusts with the tacit admission that the poor fellows in government can’t really do anything about it either. The mess damns and redeems all. Everybody is in it, nobody—at least nobody within reach—is responsible for it.
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