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This review is taken from PN Review 43, Volume 11 Number 5, May - June 1985.

STILL AND STILL MOVING Frederic Prokosch, Voices: a memoir (Faber) £8.95, The Asiatics (Faber) £3.25

Praised by Yeats, Mann and Gide inter alia, Frederic Prokosch's first two novels, The Asiatics (1935) and The Seven Who Fled (1937), brought their author immediate, high popularity and esteem. His verse received the same sweeping approval, and has shared the novels' subsequent near-oblivion. Prokosch, however, has remained unstintingly productive, and good, through a writing life now almost fifty years old. His most recent book, now published by Faber with a reprint of that long-unavailable first novel, reveals, without ever professing, the inward strength that has enabled him to persist - if 'persist' is a suitable word for a character and talent seemingly so unpent and unconstrained.

Presented together, Voices and The Asiatics - the largesse of his early writing, and the flowering of his old age - are extraordinarily similar: although one is fiction and the other a form of autobiography, the structure of the narratives, and the ruling preoccupations, are alike. Further, the books seem to complement each other on another level. In Voices, Prokosch perceives life as a journey, 'long and hazardous . . . through the great old cities of the world, through seaports and palaces, through piazzas and slums'. Read in the retrospective light cast by Voices, The Asiatics appears as the first probing, confident venture into territory which is finally mapped in the later work; as the first exploration of questions that are only to be answered by the memoir, which is journey's end.

Told in the first-person by ...


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