Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

C. P. Snow began his academic career not as a novelist but as a scientist. Unable to gain financial assistance for a university education other than on a scientific scholarship, he earned a doctorate in physics. Initially, he worked as a researcher, then as a government official overseeing the hiring of scientists for the British government. His first love, however, was writing, and throughout his life he produced novels, plays, essays, and lectures. His three areas of expertise—science, government, and literature—gave him much of the thematic material for his literary works.

Snow’s familiarity with the world of the humanities and of science provided the background of his most famous and controversial work, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959). In this work, Snow argued that scientists and other educated individuals are out of touch with one another and tend to regard the endeavors of others with suspicion. Snow feared that this condition was resulting in a fragmenting culture that would eventually be disastrous for society. He recommended remedial education—more math and science in the lower grades and more humanities in the upper grades. Snow was also concerned with the technological gap between the developed and developing countries of the world and thought that the more industrialized nations should assist the nonindustrial nations.

In his fictional works, Snow examined the arrangements upon which societies are founded. The Masters is one of a series of eight novels, to which he gave the title Strangers and Brothers (1940-1970), that trace the life of Lewis Eliot, the narrator of The Masters. The book deals with social change, relationships, the nature of power, and the dynamic of...

(The entire section is 723 words.)