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2020-12-14 22:34:33
HAMILTON, Patrick.
Hangover Square; or, The Man with Two Minds, a story of darkest Earl's Court in the year 1939. FIRST EDITION.
Constable. 1941 Half title. Orig. pale green cloth, spine lettered in red; spine a little faded. Green pictorial d.w., unclipped; small closed tear to rear panel, a little marked, chipped & creased. Six-line ALS from the author on Savile Club notepaper loosely inserted. A rare survival. Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton, 1904-1962, is perhaps the closest the twentieth-century ever got to having its own Charles Dickens, with his extraordinary command of atmosphere and boldly unforgettable characters, but it is Dickens refracted through a grubby saloon-bar window. Hamilton's life was blighted both by alcoholism and by the severe injuries he suffered upon being hit by a car. Hangover Square is his peerless, chilling masterpiece and one of the most evocative prose works in English, taking place in a booze-soaked London of damp streets, spartan boarding houses, and empty bonhomie that's wholly indistinguishable from bullying. The only thing worse than the grubby, lonely pubs is the fact that they close between 3 and 5. Ostensibly the tale of George Harvey Bone's obsession with the desperate, calculating Netta, much has (rightly) been made in the past of the odious character Peter as an allegory for fascism, but in his portrayal of the craven, self-interested, passivity of the rest of the group, Hamilton offers a warning against stupefaction that is as dire as anything in Huxley. The undated ALS to an unknown correspondent is brief but perfectly Hamiltonian in its acerbic resignation, ending 'Would have been in before, but have been ill again, naturally'.
Bookseller: Jarndyce Rare Books [UK]

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