by Henry Green, introduction by Amit Chaudhuri
Named one of The Guardian's 100 Best Novels
Party Going, published in 1939, is Henry Green’s darkly comic valediction to what W. H. Auden famously described as the “low dishonest decade” of the 1930s. London is sunk in an impenetrable fog. Traffic has come to a halt. Stranded in the train station and the hotel connected to it are a group of bright young things waiting to catch a train to the Continent, where their enormously rich friend Max is throwing a party. Green’s characters worry and wonder and wander in and out of each other’s company (and arms and beds), in pursuit of and pursued by their own secrets and desires.by Henry Green, introduction by Amit Chaudhuri
Green’s novels are sufficiently unlike any others, sufficiently assured in their perilous, luminous fullness, to warrant the epithet incomparable...they have become, with time, photographs of a vanished England.... Green’s human qualities—his love of work and laughter; his absolute empathy; his sense of splendor amid loss—make him a precious witness to any age.
The most gifted prose writer of his generation.
—V. S. Pritchett
Each of Green’s books stands apart from the others as a separate feat in itself.
—Alan Pryce-Jones, The Observer
Party Going [is] Green’s masterpiece, about a huge assortment of people who are literally in a fog...stylish, unusual, sharply observed, funny (at times darkly so) and fashioned in a slightly eccentric way that seemed to suggest the obliqueness, the fluidity, the improvised quality of life itself.
—Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
Party Going [is] dazzling in the poetry of its prose, a masterpiece of literary impressionism.... Green paints an unforgettable portrait of a doomed, amoral world whose characters, trapped in the fog, are somehow waltzing blithely towards oblivion.... Within a few years it had acquired a distinguished retinue of literary admirers—including Auden, Isherwood and Eudora Welty.
—Robert McCrum, The Guardian
Party Going is quite simply beautifully written—its observation of human behaviour, speech and thought is wonderful and pushes beyond the realistic to become even more real, as metaphors, shadings of language and personalities expand to colour each other and their surroundings. Its evocation of a fog-locked pre-war London is crackling with atmosphere, at once deeply real and deeply dreamed, disturbing.
—A. L. Kennedy, Folio Prize Blog
Kipling in India, Lawrence in Mexico, Joyce in Trieste, they are all and immediately more central to what has become English literature, to what we expect when we open a book, than this bizarre and beautiful comedy that is Henry Green’s great masterpiece.
—Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books
The originality and wit of every sentence calls out for quotation. But the strange thing is that, after reading Party Going, it does not seem like a book controlled by its language. Rather, it seems like a book in which the language is so perfectly contrived for its purpose that we might forget that it is written at all.
—Philip Hensher, The Times (London)