A fairly honorable defeat
book — UK — 1970

It was several weeks ago when I went to a book shop in order to buy a book in English. I spent at least quarter an hour choosing, what book it would be - nothing apalled to me enough. I had nearly already bought one of Haruki Murakami`s novels when I decided in favour of Iris Murdoch, and now, after having read the book I can clap on my own shoulder upon a wise choice. "A fairly honorable defeat" portrays the lives of several members of London`s middlehigh society as they are put through a test by an unconventionally minded biologist named Julius King. Like it`s mentioned on the back cover of the book - people are just puppets in Julius` hands who punishes people for them being too vain. Rupert and Hilda are a happy married couple with quite successful lives and a black sheep for a son - Peter wants to quit Oxford and live in a different way than his parents had lived. Rupert`s brother Simon is gay and has been living with Rupert`s colleague Axel in a steady relation for three years now. Morgan, Hilda`s sister has just returned from the States where she had an affair with Julius King and by whom she was essentially forced to break up with him. Morgan still hasn`t gone over her husband Tallis, whom she left two years ago for Julius. Tallis now lives together with his father, who just happens to be quite a pesky person but who Tallis truly loves. Then there`s the problem that Peter who now lives at Tallis`s place is secretly in love with Morgan, who isn`t quite cold about her nephew either. But it would all be good for the lot of them, had Julius not decided to teach Rupert a lesson. You see, Rupert claimed himself to be a man of goodness and a man of good knowledge about what`s black and what`s white and he had even written some sort of a philosophy book. And when Julius started a sly game to make Morgan and Rupert believe that the other one of them is secretly in love with the other, all the good relationships between the heroes started to collapse about as beautifully as the twin towers. As for what I think about all this stuff - the book is mostly about one of the most important problems of the modern age - people don`t talk to each other, and a little white lie can turn into a heavy stone around your neck because of that. The ending isn`t as dark as it could probably be for Julius isn`t an evil mastermind, he just wants to prove his point, which he does perfectly. Although he puts the cards on the table a bit too late, so Rupert has enough time to drown himself. I can`t really say that everything in the book is particulary realistic, considering that Julius was sending Rupert letters that Morgan wrote to himself during their relationship while Morgan was receiving letters that Rupert wrote to her sister some twenty years ago - I seriously doubt that people usually write love letters in such a manner that they never mention any people`s names or events so there`s no way to tell that a letter isn`t exactly new. Still it is quite an amazing book with bright characters and witty dialogue.
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