Look at the Dark by Nicholas Mosley - review by Ophelia Field

Ophelia Field

Conversation Signifying Nothing

Look at the Dark


Secker & Warburg 214pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Nicholas Mosley has always written ‘novels of ideas’, and one admires his increasingly bold experimentation, even into his eighties; but what might have been intriguing as a short story this time struggles to hold together as a novel.

The narrator of Look at the Dark is a nameless, aging Englishman, a linguistics philosopher turned TV pundit – the career change an expression, apparently, of his belief in Middle Eastern Gnosticism. After being hit by a car, he is doped up with morphine to kill the pain of a smashed leg and head. Such an infirm narrator is not a bad metaphor for the Western mind today; or, at least, his state of mind – struggling between chaos and reason – fits well with Mosley’s ‘clash of cultures’ side theme. Moments when the narrator’s psychological crisis is reflected in social observation – as when he pinpoints the sickening vacuity within the cycles of public discourse since 9/11 – are sharp, but unfortunately few. 

Through a not always successful interlacing of past and present, the narrator examines his life’s relationships. A recurring theme is the way that seemingly manipulative, selfish or morally suspect acts – such as following a little girl home on a bus – may be suddenly redeemed by chance, or, as

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter