The second volume of
A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight
is the story of Richard Maddison's first-born Phillip, nicknamed 'donkey boy' because his life was saved as a baby by being fed with ass's milk. Set at the end of the nineteenth-century and beginning of the twentieth-century, it describes the young boy, something of a misfit, growing up at odds with his father in the opening years of the Edwardian era. The whole tone and feel of a vanished age are marvellously brought to life.
A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight is an epic comprising fifteen volumes. Although it should be much better known, it has attracted high praise most especially from George D. Painter (the biographer of Proust) and John Middleton Muury.
'Here is an unrolling map of the labyrinth of three generations, our fathers, ourselves and our children, and the thread leading to the mystery - monster or divinity? - at the centre. In my belief ... the whole cycle will ultimately be recognized as the great historical novel of our time, its subject as the total experience of twentieth-century man.' George D. Painter
'This will be in its entirety one of the most remarkable English novels of our time ... It is amazingly rich in all the living detail of a swiftly changing society; the characters are drawn with such loving sympathy and such firmness of imaginative outline that we are entirely absorbed by their vicissitudes. We are apprehensive for them, we are relieved; we rejoice and are sorrowful; we are angry and we understand and we laugh and laugh again. To be able to do this with us is the novelist's supreme gift ... I believe it is high time we awoke to the splendour and scope of his effort and achievement in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight . Begin with the Dark Lantern and read on; you will be the richer for it.' John Middleton Murry
The entire fifteen volume sequence is being reissued in Faber Finds.
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