The central character and voice of the fiction is the “Snooty Baronet,” a journalistic epithet used by Michael Kell-Imrie, a former serviceman who sustained an unbelievable number of wounds during the Great War, leaving him with a mechanical leg, which squeaks if it is not oiled often enough, and a plate in his head, which bothers him during weather changes. This opinionated and acerbic writer stumbled into his profession by trying to write a book in which he takes the side of Moby Dick against Ahab and the gang of louts who hunt him. His fish book, as Snooty calls it, received a publicity boost when on a fishing trip Snooty actually caught an unbelievably large game fish, a feat which attracted nationwide attention in the press. This publicity, along with his minor title, provides him with sufficient notoriety to be able to earn a living by his ideas. What he really wants to write about, however, is how people behave, but his conclusions are so radical that they disconcert his readers. Thus, his books on social behavior do not sell very well. The interesting relationship between works of fiction and unpopular philosophical or political volumes mirrors Lewis’ career during the 1930’s, when his political and social beliefs became quite objectionable.
Val and Lily represent two types of fictional heroines popular in the serious fiction of the interwar years. Val as an artist manque retains faint echos of Aldous Huxley’s characters in such works as...
(The entire section is 480 words.)