Every Man for Himself

Every Man for Himself

by Beryl Bainbridge
     
 

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If ever a subject and a writer were perfectly matched it is here.  The fated voyage of the Titanic, with its heroics and horror, has been dramatized many times before, but never by an artist with the skills and sensibility of Beryl Bainbridge.  Bainbridge vividly recreates each scene of the voyage, from the suspicious fire in the Number 10 coal

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Overview

If ever a subject and a writer were perfectly matched it is here.  The fated voyage of the Titanic, with its heroics and horror, has been dramatized many times before, but never by an artist with the skills and sensibility of Beryl Bainbridge.  Bainbridge vividly recreates each scene of the voyage, from the suspicious fire in the Number 10 coal bunker, to the champange and crystal of the first-class public rooms, to that terrible midnight chaos in the frigid North Atlantic.  This is remarkable, haunting tale substantiates Bainbridge as a consummate observer of the human condition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bainbridge, whose The Birthday Boys was an unforgettable rendition of Scott's fatal Antarctic expedition, has turned to another Edwardian tragedy for her new novel: the sinking of the Titanic. As Bainbridge admirers might expect, it is not the kind of version that would make a spectacular movie; rather, it is a meticulously observed account that almost offhandedly convinces the reader that this is exactly what it must have been like aboard the doomed liner. The story is told by a wealthy young American man-about-town, an adopted nephew of J. Pierpont Morgan, who in search of something to do has had a slight hand in the ship's design ('the specifications of bathtubs'). Once aboard, he drinks too much with his layabout friends; sees people like the Astors and Strauses; becomes infatuated with a girl who in turn falls for a mysterious and cynical stranger; and gets to know a young Jewish dress designer who is hoping to become a hit in New York. In a few deft strokes Bainbridge shows the gulf between the steerage passengers and the 'nobs' while communicating the alternating servility and resentment of the crew. The book is nearly over before disaster strikes, but once again, the unnerving details seem just right: the careless self-confidence at the beginning, the gallantry quickly eroding to panic. Bainbridge's swift, economical novels tell us more about an era and the ways in which its people inhabit it than volumes of social history.
Victoria Glendinning
"One of the most brillian things she has done....Do not miss this novel." - The Daily Telegraph
Kirkus Reviews
The 1912 maiden voyage of the Titanic—not played for the usual melodrama but used, half-successfully, as the backdrop for the coming-of-age story of a well-connected, uncertain young man. Harvard grad Morgan has plenty to be uncertain about. His early childhood was a blur of poverty, abandonment, and abuse—all ended when he was rescued, Dickens-style, by the family of his millionaire uncle-by-marriage (apparently J.P. Morgan himself). As a result, Morgan has grown up in great wealth but is still haunted by bygone scandal and loss. Now, having worked as an apprentice draughtsman at the London firm that designed the wondrous Titanic, Morgan is heading home to New York on the luxury liner—a floating metaphor (with its glamorous topdecks and steerage squalor below), for his layered identity. By the time disaster strikes, Morgan's world has already been upended. He has timidly attempted his first amour—only to find that the cool socialite he worships is engaged in a seemingly loveless affair with a middle-aged man-of-the-world (whom Morgan has seen as a surrogate father). Disturbed by the ill treatment of the ship's crew, he questions the values of his glittery, hypocritical circle—and frets over his lack of direction. So, when the shipwreck comes, it's a chance for Morgan to prove himself—and to see how certain social and moral attitudes play out in the face of crisis and death. Bainbridge doesn't always find the perfect balance between Morgan's introspective story (only intermittently affecting) and the familiar Titanic epic, and this lacks the gripping quality of her finest historical fictions (Young Adolf, 1979; The Birthday Boys, 1994). But her gift forlean yet resonant narration—vivid details and images, startling dialogue, telling anecdotes—remains one of modern fiction's marvels, and at its best this bildungsroman-at-sea (with more than a few echoes of Conrad) casts a dark, doomy spell.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609450861
Publisher:
Europa
Publication date:
03/27/2012
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
902,435
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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