Found, Lost, Found (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
If one is to take Found, Lost, Found seriously it is necessary to recognize that J. B. Priestley is a writer of prodigious output, whose fiction is as much social comment as are his essays and his criticism, and that he has been producing work for more than a half century (his first novel, Adam in Moonshine, was published in 1927). As it happens, this latest short novel is much like his first; it is a charming, light, romantic, escapist bit of fiction; one has to dig for the symbolism, and might not bother to do so were it not that the work is by Priestley.
The title appears to tell it all: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. On further consideration, however, the story does have another level when one remembers Priestley’s penchant for symbolism and social criticism in his work; it then becomes a mischievous look at the civil services, psychiatry, women’s liberation, the theater, and other manifestations of the embattled Englishman in the last part of the twentieth century.
The action centers around the acceptance of a challenge from his girl by a moderately alcoholic civil servant; the challenge is to prove he can generate enough initiative and self-discipline to find her, if he wants her.
The protagonist, Tom Dekker, exemplifies the plight of the middle-level civil servant in England—victim...
(The entire section is 1140 words.)
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