Night and Silence, Who is Here?

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Pan Macmillan, Mar 1, 2012 - Fiction - 232 pages
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Following his appearance in The Unspeakable Skipton, Matthew Pryar returns as the hero of Pamela Hansford Johnson’s novel, Night and Silence, Who is Here?

On any count, Pryar is a memorable character, and his experiences as a Visiting Fellow of Cobb, a liberal arts college in New Hampshire, U.S.A., will delight all who appreciate satirical comedy and brilliantly entertaining writing.

Pryar arrives at Cobb to assume his Visiting Fellowship in a mood of expectant complacency. He expects to spend a comfortable, fruitful year completing his long-deferred monograph on the work of the celebrated and awful poetess Dorothy Merlin and to be mildly lionized in the process. He reckons without the nightmare quality of the domestic arrangements, the profusion and variety of the eccentricities of his colleagues and the unheralded and unwanted descent of the poetess herself. The complexities of the situation are considerable and they are compounded by Pryar’s newly-born ambition to abandon belles-lettres in favour of college administration.

Pamela Hansford Johnson, as one would expect, handles her narrative and her marvellous cast of characters with such dexterity and wit that this New Hampshire winter story has all the pace and gaiety of Carnival in high summer.

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About the author (2012)

Pamela Hansford Johnson was born in 1912 and gained recognition with her first novel, This Bed Thy Centre, published in 1935. She wrote 27 novels. Her themes centred on the moral responsibility of the individual in their personal and social relations. The fictional genres she used ranged from romantic comedy (Night and Silence, Who Is Here?) and high comedy (The Unspeakable Skipton) to tragedy (The Holiday Friend) and the psychological study of cruelty (An Error of Judgement). Her last novel, A Bonfire, was published in the year of her death, 1981.

She was a critic as well as a novelist and wrote books on Thomas Wolfe and Ivy Compton-Burnett; Six Proust Reconstructions (1958) confirmed her reputation as a leading Proustian scholar. She also wrote a play, Corinth House (1954), a work of social criticism arising out of the Moors Trial, On Iniquity (1967), and a book of essays, Important to Me (1974). She received honorary degrees from six universities and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was awarded the C.B.E. in 1975.

Pamela Hansford Johnson, who had two children by her first marriage with journalist Gordon Neil Stewart, later married C. P. Snow. Their son Philip was born in 1952.

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