Mervyn Jones Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Jones, Mervyn 1922–

Jones is a British essayist, editor, short story writer, and novelist. His novels often deal with political issues from a leftist perspective, and he has written a carefully researched fictional account of the life of Joseph Stalin, Joseph. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48.)

Don't be put off by the cadaverous title [of "Twilight of the Day."] This is not a tearjerker about an autumnal Philadelphia love affair; it is, rather, a sophisticated and lively chronicle of a London working-class family from the turn of the century to the present. The very real personal dramas of the Wheelright family … are so successfully interwoven with the major social upheavals of the period—the abortive general strike, the Depression, the two World Wars—that the result is a novel as fascinating for its social history as for its characterizations. More than we realize, most of us inherit our idea of how the English working class lived and lives from Dickens, D. H. Lawrence, and those self-conscious films of the sixties in which women were always called "birds" or "dollies" and men usually referred to one another as "mate" or "bloke," and both were invariably treated as bits of comic (or tragic) exotica. Mr. Jones neither glamorizes nor caricatures his characters but shows us how several generations of people who lived in a now defunct sort of East End community led and thought about their daily lives. (pp. 97-8)

The New Yorker (© 1975 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), January 20, 1975.