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Lord Jim at home

ISBN: 9781946022646
Format: Paperback
Publisher: McNally Jackson Books
Origin: US
Release Date: October, 2023

Book Details

The pitiable subject of a cruel upbringing evolves into a rudderless adult, the nemesis of the privileged family that failed him. Brooke’s withering portrait of the British upper class, originally published in 1973, now reissued and available for the first time in the U.S. with a foreword by Ottessa Moshfegh, is a dispassionate, sardonic parable of tragic dysfunction. It traces in detail the origins of Giles Trenchard, a.k.a. “the infant Prince,” oldest child of parents referred to as the King and Queen but in truth a boozy solicitor and his ineffectual wife, both products of English social and financial inheritance. Neglected by his mother, bullied by his father, left in the brutal “care” of a nanny, the infant Giles is bruised, tortured, and starved of tenderness. His only weapons in “the dark battles of the nursery” are screams, withdrawal, and the refusal of food. Brooke relates these horrors in a distinctive, chilly tone–“The Prince learns in the end, but a rat would have learned sooner”–while depicting the adults in grotesque terms, notably detailing their sexual proclivities. Even after his horrible nanny is replaced, it’s too late for Giles; he’s sent to a private school where he endures and fits in but can’t learn and makes no friends, even though he’s good at cricket. Another school follows, and a psychiatrist, but then World War II intervenes. Working as a humble sailor, Giles endures grim experiences but finds some social acceptance in the ranks. Afterward, it’s back to a life of nonachievement, failing law exams, drinking excessively, and stealing from his parents and others. This downward slide, underpinned by disgust and disgrace at home, is not slowed by love for an unsuitable 19-year-old, and Brooke finally reaches the Lord Jim-esque lapse, unsurprising in a tale of such implacable determinism, yet still shocking. A domestic and class horror story delivered in clinical, brilliant prose.