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Date Added: 2005-01-19

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By Alfred Milch, Ph.D. on August 22, 2006

This is a tale in 19 chapters about the British people under a very special circumstance. That circumstance is described in excellent detail in the first chapter, while a resolution is strongly hinted at in the last.

What intervenes is Munro's not very sympathetic view of the British people. He is very respectful of royalty (which we do not meet at all) and of the clergy to which he devotes a single chapter. He dismisses the working class with indulgent scorn while he saves his special venom for the upper classes which he dispises with a passion. They are, in his eyes, selfish, totally indifferent to others, fawning on superiors with disgusting enthusiasm, false, dishonest, scheming, self-serving, self-aggrandizing and, above all, greedy beyond belief. Munro knows how to wield the English language and does with a vengeance on this last group, of which the narrator, Yeovil, is a member. Some very few of his characters receive praise.

It is important to realize that Munro wrote this diatribe in 1914 and was killed in 1916, as a British soldier while fighting in France. One wonders how he would complete the story's resolution if he had so desired.

The reading, despite Munro's great skill and eloquence, gets a bit tiresome owing to his unremitting obsession with his subject.