'Cross-Purposes', to cite its main title, is a philosophic-cum-romantic novel in which a young writer becomes amorously involved with the wife of an influential publisher and ends-up paying the price, as does a certain philosopher friend of his, whose subsequent double-dealing in connection with their mutual girlfriend proves more difficult to manage than he had at first suspected, putting him at cross-purposes with them both, to their mutual disadvantage! Despite its tragic outcome, 'Cross-Purposes' is far from bleak but at times immensely funny and even intellectually precocious. There are even a number or erotic overtones in this exotic novel, which also takes the reader to Paris and to the seedy underside of the Boulevard de Clichy. A radical departure from the social constraints of his previous novel 'Fixed Limits' (1976).
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This novel is arguably one of the author's best in that it signifies a leap forward, after some three years, from 'Fixed Limits', his previous essay into literary fiction. Here the prose is less subjective and more narrative-oriented, with more than a passing reference to Aldous Huxley in some of its stylistic elements, including a fairly marked philosophical bias. Nonetheless, it is also more wide-ranging in its various chapter settings than before, and the one set in Paris is perhaps the jewel in the crown of this at times very comic work, even though it ends on a tragic note which is the bitter fruit of an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and suspicion that characterize the relationships of the principal protagonists, who are either writers or people associated with the Arts in some way.