A Prodigal Child (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
David Storey’s A Prodigal Child appears at first sight to be a work of minute realism of a familiar English kind, founded on a strong sense of locality and community, and having as its main theme the tensions created by one individual’s dissatisfaction with his family, expected role, and place in society. A narrow focus is evident from the opening few paragraphs, which describe the lie of the land round Stainforth estate and Spinney Moor, in a sense historically, for they explain how houses, mills, and factories come to be built, but in a sense timelessly, giving the impression that regardless of what men put on it, the land itself will always be the same. The characters’ strong feelings of continuity with their past is reasserted later on in the book in one incident when Margaret Spencer says that there has been a farm on the site of her father’s for a thousand years; even before that, she declares, Neolithic men hunted along the riverbank and left their arrowheads to be found in the earth. This eternal quality in the landscape, one may say, represents the book’s “immovable object.”
Against this, by all the laws of narrative probability, there ought to be set an “irresistible force,” and the obvious candidate to represent this must be young Bryan Morley, the boy who escapes physically from his environment, by being “adopted” and moving out of his family home, and shows moreover an instinctive urge from his earliest years to...
(The entire section is 2154 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
America. CXLVIII, June 4, 1983, p. 443.
Antioch Review. XLI, Summer, 1983, p. 380.
Contemporary Review. CCXLI, October, 1982, p. 213.
Library Journal. CVIII, February 1, 1983, p. 222.
New Statesman. CIII, June 25, 1983, p. 23.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, April 10, 1983, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIII, January 21, 1983, p. 68.
Times Literary Supplement. July 2, 1982, p. 710.
(The entire section is 43 words.)