Like several earlier novels by Morley Callaghan, particularly the important 1930’s works Such Is My Beloved (1934), They Shall Inherit the Earth (1935), and More Joy in Heaven (1937), The Loved and the Lost is both a realistic depiction of modern man’s quest for the self in the physical world and a symbolic study of the metaphysical conflict between the spiritual and the sensual.
At the center of this conflict in The Loved and the Lost is the protagonist, Jim McAlpine, a former professor of history, disillusioned with his profession and seeking more practical success in journalism. His first break in this direction, and the event that sets the action of the novel in motion, comes when Joseph Carver, the wealthy publisher of the Montreal Sun, sees an article by McAlpine in The Atlantic Monthly entitled “The Independent Man,” a title whose irony the rest of the novel will make clear. The central object around which McAlpine’s search for independence and his spiritual and sensual conflict revolve is Peggy Sanderson, an ostensibly innocent and unassuming young woman whom he meets when he moves to Montreal to try for a job as a columnist on Carver’s newspaper. Completing the important plot triangle in the novel is Catherine Carver, the rich publisher’s divorced daughter. Whereas Catherine draws McAlpine toward the social success he thinks he wants, Peggy impresses him with her lack of concern...
(The entire section is 569 words.)