Julius Horwitz D. A. N. Jones - Essay

D. A. N. Jones

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The title of this quiet, sad American novel [The Married Lovers] is bound to recall Coventry Patmore's poem, "The Married Lover". A comparison is not frivolous, since both writers are, in their generation, far superior to the average in their command of the English language. Like Patmore, Mr Horwitz seems eager to repudiate the notion that marriage is too dull and familiar a subject for imaginative writing; but Patmore's narrator, Felix, is made to exult in the everyday excitement of his situation, whereas Mr Horwitz's narrator—a middle-aged surgeon, called David—is appalled and driven to desperation by both the concept and the reality of marriage….

David is anxious to reason things out—the novel is stiff with argument and generalization—and his wife, Anne, is equally articulate and explicit. There is a third prominent character, a Miss Wharton, who offers David advice about marriage in much the same tone of voice. All three speak in the best sort of American English, a spare, graceful, aphoristic style, which is pleasing to read but makes the novel implausible—as if Socrates, Xanthippe and Diotima were all on one wavelength….

It is not until the last four brief chapters that the immediate cause of David's breakdown is revealed…. It seems a disappointingly simple explanation, after all the sociology and metaphysics. But it comes at the right place in the book, as if David had only just managed...

(The entire section is 450 words.)