Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN:
Pages: 208
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

Nothing

by Henry Green, introduction by Francine Prose

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In Nothing the generations face off, with the parents flesh-proud and weary and the children oddly tentative and abashed, each group struggling to understand and have its way with the other. Jane Weatherby and John Pomfret are erstwhile bright young things and sometime lovers, whose long-ago affair had its share of disastrous consequences. Now after World War II and in the midst of postwar austerity, youth and its pleasures seem far way, though nostalgia remains a bond. To them their respective children, Philip and Mary, seem timid and conventional, and it is true that with no money and no great hopes, these young people for nothing so much as stability. Indeed they seem--to their parents' horror (perhaps because it can't be ruled out that the two are brother and sister)--bent on marrying each other! Jane and John will do their best to make sure those plans come to nothing....

Nothing and Doting were the last of Henry Green's novels, two books written almost entirely in dialogue. Not unlike the plays of Samuel Beckett, these arraignments of lust, folly, and helpless misunderstanding are as comic and entertaining as they are dire and mournful.

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Praise

Nothing and Doting...actually display something close to old-fashioned formal perfection.
—Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review

And in their sheer absurdity Nothing and Doting are two of the funniest novels ever written, bringing to an almost abstract essence the humor that had always been woven through Green’s work.
The Atlantic

Henry Green is an accomplished virtuoso, and he makes his upper-middle-class Londoners perform like figures in some highly stylized ritual dance of a dying culture. Nothing is a brilliant performance.
The Nation

The sincere and almost religious conviction of the primacy of guilt in human relations is one of Green’s most fruitful sources of inspiration, and he forcefully develops it in Doting and Nothing, his last, great, and dismally underrated novels.
The New Criterion