Author: Henry Green
Original language: English
Green remains a dim figure for many Americans. He stopped writing in 1952, at age 47, with just nine novels and a memoir behind him. In the last years of his life-he died in 1973-he became a kind of British Thomas Pynchon, agreeing to be photographed only from behind. But those who knew him often revered him. W. H. Auden called him the finest living English novelist. His real name was Henry Vincent Yorke. The son of a wealthy Birmingham industrialist, he was educated at Eton and Oxford but never completed his degree. He became managing director of the family factory, which made beer-bottling machines. But first he spent a year on the factory floor with the ordinary workers, and his fiction is forever marked by an understanding of the English at all levels of society, something rare in class-bound British literature. Loving is a classic upstairs-downstairs story, with the emphasis on downstairs. You see the life of a great Irish country house during World War II through the eyes of its mostly British servants, who make a world of their own during a period when their masters are away. Green’s generosity towards even the most scheming and rascally of them offers a lesson you never forget.
One of his most admired works, Loving describes life above and below stairs in an Irish country house during the Second World War. In the absence of their employers the Tennants, the servants enact their own battles and conflict amid rumours about the war in Europe; invading one another’s provinces of authority to create an anarchic environment of self-seeking behaviour, pilfering, gossip and love.
“Loving stands, together with Living, as the masterpiece of this disciplined, poetic and grimly realistic, witty and melancholy, amorous and austere voluptuary-comic, richly entertaining-haunting and poetic-writer.” – TLS
“Green’s works live with ever-brightening intensity-it’s like dancing with Nijinsky or Astaire, who lead you effortlessly on.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Green’s novels- have become, with time, photographs of a vanished England -Green’s human qualities – his love of work and laughter; his absolute empathy; his sense of splendour amid loss – make him a precious witness to any age.” – John Updike
“Green’s books are solid and glittering as gems.” – Anthony Burgess