Review of The Green Child by Herbert Read

This bizarre novel was broken into three disparate parts, and by ‘broken,’ I mean ruined.

For part one, he might merit 5/5 stars, for part 2, 2/5, and part 3, 4/5. The longest middle section is a droll account of the main character’s life story, his toppling of a dictator, conspiring with revolutionaries, his imprisonment, etc. It was written in an historical style, rather than the lyrical splendor of Part 1.

Part 1 and 3 concerns the ‘green child.’ In the last, short part, we are treated to a reimagining of Plato’s cave allegory, and left with some unanswered questions, but it doesn’t matter because Read is attempting a unique approach, is investing his narrative with mystery and meaning, and this book employs grand, memorable imagery. It is only a shame the writing falters for about half of the book’s length.

A quick read, nonetheless, and one of those books you may never encounter in your natural lifetime but one which must be sought out and captured. It reads like a slightly disturbing dream. If only the author would’ve written more novels, then we might have been treated to a masterpiece. What we have is about on the level of a novella by Arthur Machen.

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