The darkening vision

  • Suguna Ramanathan


While Snow in his novels has never at any time been caught up in a rapture, he started out with a measure of hopefulness, as shown by the title of an early volume, Time of Hope. But the phrase itself, evocative of Ecclesiastes, carries the implication of transitoriness and hints that hope was only for that place and that time. The novel unfolds the events and experience that time brought in its train, taking away the hopefulness of youth. Snow has so often been called a meliorist that one might usefully recognise that, from the beginning, there is present in his fiction a strain of bleakness and a real sense of human limitations. He has explicitly said, both in the controversial Two Cultures lecture and in connection with Martin Eliot in The New Men, that the individual life is tragic, that each of us is alone and it is but a short way to the grave. Much more significant than these statements is the continued awareness in the novels of the buried tide of emotion, the tragic possibility, which flows beneath all effort and action. What he does not afford in his novels is the cathartic release of the tragic emotions: that is, while he recognises the tragic stance, he never assumes it himself as a writer.


Liberal Ideal Decent People Continue Awareness Brotherly Love Darkening Vision 
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  1. 1.
    C.P. Snow, In Their Wisdom (New York: Scribner, 1974) p. 34.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    C.P. Snow, The Sleep of Reason (London: Penguin, 1971), p. 403.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Patrick Swinden, ‘The World of C.P. Snow’, Critical Quarterly, 15 (winter 1973) 312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 19.
    C.P. Snow, The Light and the Dark (New York: Scribner, 1947), p. 87.Google Scholar

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© Suguna Ramanathan 1978

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  • Suguna Ramanathan

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