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This article is taken from PN Review 39, Volume 11 Number 1, July - August 1984.

Homm Insapiens Roger Scruton

In his two novels Sisson stands far above his characters, and views them with a piercing irony. Faced with such an author, in whom intelligence, scepticism and disillusion command a measured style, no fiction has a chance. In An Asiatic Romance the principal victim is a civil service knight, who, misled into savage regions, strives still to protect himself with the pomp and paperwork that are the weapons of his tribe. In Christopher Homm the victim is a downtrodden member of the industrial proletariat, whose joyless life is gradually dismembered by his creator, and whose only weapon in this unequal encounter is the rooted obstinacy of his class. Both books are minor masterpieces, yet both are strangely neglected.

Christopher Homm is one of the most artfully constructed of modern novels. Homm's life is slowly unpeeled, from the crust of death to the inner nothingness of conception. He is displayed as a voiceless unit, a solipsist burdened against his will with wife, child, chapel and society. He comes from nowhere, goes nowhere, and has no other function than to reflect, in the dim mirror of his frustration, the contours of a purposeless existence. Homm and his wife Felicia are the archetypal couple of the seaside dirty postcard, deprived even of that modicum of desultory humour. In themselves, they are comic clichés, without intrinsic individuality; yet, in the light of Sisson's excoriating irony, each stands out stark, detached, and wholly individual.

Nothing in Homm's life is intelligible ...

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