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In a moment of crisis and grasping the rail of a bridge, Richard is saved by a passing stranger named Jake. The two men, both at turning points, become fast friends and, out for adventure, jump aboard the first ship they see. Their journey takes them across Europe, cementing a passionate friendship. But it is in bohemian Paris that Richard finally meets the woman who enables him to fulfill his artistic promise. Daphne du Maurier’s second novel is a masterpiece of narration, showcasing for the first time in ...
In a moment of crisis and grasping the rail of a bridge, Richard is saved by a passing stranger named Jake. The two men, both at turning points, become fast friends and, out for adventure, jump aboard the first ship they see. Their journey takes them across Europe, cementing a passionate friendship. But it is in bohemian Paris that Richard finally meets the woman who enables him to fulfill his artistic promise. Daphne du Maurier’s second novel is a masterpiece of narration, showcasing for the first time in her career the male voice she would use to stunning effect in four subsequent novels, including My Cousin Rachel.
Posted August 6, 2013
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"You ought to take a pull on yourself." Thus speaks savior Jake to saved Richard/Dick in just turned 23 years old Daphne du Maurier's novel of 1930, I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN. ***
Novel's unattractive anti-hero Richard/Dick is the only child of England's most famous poet. He lives on a spacious estate. Dick/Richard is the first person narrator of I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN. And he tells readers of his unhappy childhood, boyhood and young manhood up to about age 30. ***
At novel's beginning, Dick/Richard is 21. He has run away from home and stands on Thames bridge at ebb time. He will drown himself tin the river. But he is prevented by utter stranger Jake. Jake calms Dick down, takes him for a meal, listens closely to his tale of woe. and Dick resolves to do whateverJake suggests. ***
The two ship out for a few weeksr around various Baltic and Scandinavian ports. They ride horses into the mountains of Norway. They cruise for a couple of days with American tourists along fjords. Dick takes a gorgeous but dumb redhead out in a cart, has his first sex, then begs Jake to take him away. After more tramping about in Norway, the pair lands in Stockholm where they are dragged into a portside murder plot and flee for their lives. They ship out again and are wrecked off the coast of France. Dick is the only survivor. How will he endure and mature without his savior and mentor Jake, the only human who has ever shown him kindness? ***
Dick moves to Paris, accepts money from his father, smokes too many cigarettes, drinks too much wine. Then he meets a conventional English girl, Hesta. She is studying music in Paris and desires neither romance nor distraction from preparing for her first concert. Dick, however, begins an unremitting campaign of successful seduction till Hesta moves in with him. She wants marriage and children. Dick scoffs: how conventional! Sex should be freely given. Why, Hesta, you might even wish to become promiscuous, even a prostitute. ***
Then suddenly, inexplicably, Dick gets serious as a writer, is determined to "show" his father who is the greater artist. For a year he shuts Hesta out while he writes his first novel and first play. He takes them to his father's publisher in London who says that Dick is just an ordinary mortal -- certainly no writer -- while his father is a genius. During his weeks in London, Dick resolves to make Hesta his wife and settle down to happy, conventional married life. But he finds that Hesta has moved out of their apartment to live with violinist Julio. She thanks Dick for converting her to a life devoted to fun. She will flit from man to man for the rest of her life. ***
The great poet dies, leaving all his wealth to his only son. Dick acts on the earlier advice of Jake to "take a pull" on himself and grow up. He also accepts the publisher's help finding a job in finance and joining a good London club. At novel's end Richard is at peace with himself and glad to have survived his horrible childhood, boyhood and early manhood. He has learned to be ordinary. ***
The narrative lacks coherence. There are vivid vignettes, travelogues, raptures over sea, rivers, mountains and cities, a deadly fight in a Stockholm cafe, many ruminations and reflections about letting go of immaturity. If you bring yourself to read I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN all the way through once, you will be rewarded by its subtleties the second time around. -OOO-