The Caves of Alienation is a story of unfolding revelation about the difficult, fascinating character of Caradock. His family made their fortune from the industry of Wales, but his cosseted childhood in the Welsh valleys only fuelled his desire to leave, and his efforts to escape are explored through the multi-voiced narrative. Then there are his crucial first encounters with sex, his literary success in London and his final withdrawal to Wales.
But it is the riveting manner of the telling which gives The Caves of Alienation its virtuosity.
It is told from a variety of viewpoints, some conflicting, all interrelated. Friends and enemies, literary rivals, lovers, critics, the ‘official biography’ even television and radio documentaries jostle each other in the narrative with their own (sometimes feigning) fragments of truth. Caradock’s own novels and essays play a vital part in the story. All this makes for an exhilarating, kaleidoscopic read, funny and profound by turns, yet never flinching in its portrayal of Caradock and his deepest preoccupations.
The phrase tour de force is a tired one, but it has seldom been more justified than in the case of this exceptional novel.
About the author:
Stuart Evans was born in Swansea in 1934 and brought up at Ystalyfera in Glamorgan. It was as a novelist that he established his reputation, with eight long, technically complex novels which are more inclined to the philosophical than is usual in English fiction. They include Meritocrats (1974), The Gardens of the Casino (1976), The Caves of Alienation(1977), and a quintet known as The Windmill Hill Sequence. He also published two volumes of verse, Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads (1972) and The Function of the Foal (1997). He died in 1994.