Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Antony Clarendon grows up in the comfortable, protected, pre-World War I environment of rural Great Britain, believing that Englishmen are generous and caring and love the land with an opulence not found elsewhere. Antony’s early memories of Vine House, the home in which he was born and grew up, a seventeenth century brick and stone dwelling with a coat of arms over the door, are memories of a “harmony so complete that he had breathed it as naturally and unconsciously as pure air.” The people he encounters, from his nanny, Annie, to the local squire, Henry Scrope, affirm the permanence and kindliness of this splendid world.
A very brief affair with his cousin Evelyn convinces him of the paramount importance of the world of the senses. Even a note of dissonance sounded by Stephen Crang, the local radical, who simplistically reduces all life to the problem of subsistence, hardly gets him to change his opinions, although it does encourage him to ponder the extent of society’s responsibility toward those less fortunate.
When Antony is graduated from secondary school, he has no clear idea of what he will do. He tells his father that he is considering becoming an architect, and his father gives him some money to go to Italy to luxuriate in the wonders of the past. On an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea (symbolically called Aeaea after the mythical dwelling place of Circe), Antony meets the love of his life, Katharina. They have an intense...
(The entire section is 1387 words.)
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