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DAVID BENEDICTUS
The Fourth Of June


click to enlarge

Pan, London, 1964
(price: 2/6; 176 pages)
first published by Anthony Blond, 1962

dedication: for my parents who deserve better


The blurb on the back:

Eton…
among whose hallowed buildings a 'guinea-pig’ (an ex-grammar school boy) is savagely beaten into paralysis by his House Captain... a bishop spends his evening Spying on a chaplain's half-dressed daughter... and a house-master is seduced by a desperate mother...
... the Eton of David Benedictus's shock-filled, highly-controversial first novel.


opening lines:
‘Bloody funny Bishop, that Bishop,’ said Pemberton.


This is the first novel by David Benedictus and, while it gives no clue as to his future career (see examples below, and his 1983 novelization of Local Hero), it does read as a typical first novel of the period. The claim that it’s ‘controversial’ is presumably in reference to the scenes of violent bullying, the unrestrained class warfare and the suggestions of slightly twisted sexuality, but how much any of that is going to come as a shock to you, I don’t know. Seems about par for the course to me, and not much further advanced than Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Mind you, it’s funnier than Tom Brown’s Schooldays. And it does make the very reasonable point that public school traditions – in every negative as well as positive sense – are perpetuated more by the pupils than by the staff. Adults don’t even come close to kids when there’s snobbery to be exhibited.

Is it any good? Yeah, it’s not bad. Dated, but worth checking out if you’re interested in Britain as it stood on the cusp of Harold Wilson’s meritocratic revolution.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
2/5


alternative editions

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American

from the maker of...

This Animal Is Mischevious

Lloyd George

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