Lars Iyer - Henry Green, Concluding (1948)

My favourite books are curates’ eggs, one-offs that are utterly unthinkable without their very particular author. Such a book is Henry Green’s peculiar and beautiful and ironically titled Concluding, set in alternative present during a single day at a girls’ boarding school, after two pupils have disappeared. What happened to them is never revealed, even when one of them is found, but it seems that they sought to escape the strictures of their education at the hands of the sinister State. Nor do we learn of the outcome of the struggle between the State-aligned governesses, Miss Edge and Miss Baker, and the retired scientist, Mr Rock, whose presence in the school grounds they find so irksome. These, and other unresolved plotlines, are really only the occasion for the beguiling meanderings of Green’s novel, which pitches against bureaucratic conformism not only Rock’s old-world commonsense, but also the pagan energies of the girls. I love Concluding for the glorious, syntax-straining sentences that flare out of nowhere, and are full of those same wild energies.

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