Rogue Male, By Geoffrey Household
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 29 March 2013
This 1939 novel, a clear precursor of Fleming and Forsyth, is much more than a first-class thriller. As Robert Macfarlane's preface argues, it is a "stone-cold classic".
Our hero, a hunting toff, has almost assassinated the (unnamed) Hitler. After torture, his flight from the (unnamed) Gestapo takes him back to England, and deepest Dorset, mystically evoked.
His dry stoicism hides trauma. Nail-biting, boldly plotted, the pursuit reveals it. A mesmeric climax anticipates post-war existential fiction. By any standards: a masterpiece.
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