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April 12, 2021 April 2021 No Comments

The Last man in Europe

I was intrigued to see a novel by Denis Glover  listed on the Library’s catalogue. On closer inspection I saw that this was not the New Zealand Glover but an English one. The subject looked interesting so I borrowed the book – and it proved fortunate that I had.

This Denis Glover  is an academic with a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge where he was a member of King’s College. Last Man in Europe  is  his first novel which, however, is actually an amalgam of biography and novel. Glover has taken what he, a historian, factually knows of George Orwell’s life to create an illuminating story. In an introductory note he explains: ‘ this is a work of fiction but one that attempts to keep as close to the facts as possible to create a novel’.  

As a young man Glover was an enthusiastic Communistic Socialist who went to fight in the Spanish Civil war where he was seriously wounded and caught Tuberculosis. He had also become disillusioned by Communism due to the attitude of the Russian Communists fighting there. 

During the Second World War, with the designation of Captain, he headed the Army Office Department which produced suitably written reports on the war for distribution to the media. 

After the war he became a free lance writer spending most of his time writing  novels. However due to their always being politically overt messages they were time and again turned down by publishers. 

Then he struck upon the idea of writing one as an allegory and wrote Animal Farm. To ensure that readers got the book’s message he wrote a Preface explaining that this was an allegory. Once again Publishers were not interested.

One however could see the potential as a straight story. He agreed to publish then, unbeknown to the author, removed the explanatory preface. The book was a huge success in England and rights were sold to an American publisher  where it was also a success. Glover was suddenly famous and rich, but frustrated at still not getting his socialist message across.

By this time the tuberculosis had become advanced and his life expectancy was not good. Now as a famous writer his book would certainly be published he determined to write one more book. He purchased a property on a very remote Scottish island and began writting. The book was 1984. 

This is both a really well written story and an informative read. 

Mike Beckett 

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