Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Military Philosophers - post II

There is a moment when Jenkins’s mentions that in his boarding house he is reading Proust and you wonder if what immediately follows with mentions of lesbianism and sexual affairs is somehow a nod to the French author’s own particular themes.

Central to those issues is the character of Pamela Flitton, the niece of Jenkins’s school friend Charles Stringham. She has affairs with almost all of the cast all with the effect of traumatising the men who get involved with her. One of them includes Templer who is made to feel old and rejected at the end of the short affair and leaves his desk job to head off somewhere to prove he still has a bit of youth left.

As Jenkins moves from liaising with the Poles to dealing with the Czechs and Belgium he notices that Fitton has notched up various dignitaries on her bed post across the allied nations.

Meanwhile the book threatens to get immersed in the past as some old characters, Ted Jeavons in particular reappear, and through conversation reintroduce names from earlier volumes. There is nothing wrong with that but it reminds you of how static Jenkins life was before the war and you want to encourage him to look to the future.

More tomorrow…

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