Blindfold Games Critical Context - Essay

Alan Ross

Critical Context

As has been suggested, Blindfold Games is an outstanding example of a popular subcategory of the autobiographical genre, permeated by nostalgia for a lost childhood setting. Whether that setting be Alan Ross’s Calcutta, William Wordsworth’s rural England, or Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Warsaw, the writer revisits it in memory with a bittersweet mingling of longing and loss.

There are other contexts, too, however, in which Blindfold Games can be usefully placed. As a modest addition to the long shelf of war memoirs, Ross’s book is notable for its cool accuracy. Approaching a subject encrusted with cliches, Ross refuses to strike a pose—even the pose of the antihero. As a literary memoir, Blindfold Games should be read alongside Anthony Powell’s To Keep the Ball Rolling (1976-1982), Julian Maclaren-Ross’ Memoirs of the Forties (1965), and other indispensable accounts of a period particularly rich in memoirs. Finally, and most distinctively, Blindfold Games is a poet’s memoir in which the reader is given poems in their autobiographical context—the raw material, so to speak, from which they were generated. The poems, Ross says, are not intended as glosses for the memoir; it is the other way around.

In 1988, Ross published a sequel to Blindfold Games, Coastwise Lights, which continued his story from the late 1940’s to the late 1970’s.