Flight from a Lady is probably Macdonell’s most enigmatic works. It is fictional, but hardly reads like a novel. The plot is the story of a very wealthy young man escaping from the clutches of a woman — a woman so determined that the man goes to great lengths to cover his tracks and avoid being trapped by her, the she-wolf.
He charters a plane — a Douglas — crewed by a young Dutch charter crew, and off he goes, to France, Italy, Greece, the Middle East and to India. War was looming (the book was published in 1939, just prior to the Second World War) and with his usual prescience Macdonell foretells the future, correctly predicting what was to come.
The book is written as if a series of letters, and if were not a novel it would make a wonderful travelogue, for Macdonell, well-educated and well-travelled, makes a good travel narrator. He reminisces on the past, he provides political commentary, and generally uses the loose fabric of this novel to voice his pet themes. His reflection on his youthful travels in Germany are an example:
It was unfair of us — and we knew it. But we resolutely put the unfairness out of our minds. The mark tumbled, and the Austrian crown tumbled, and the Hungarian crown tumbled, and we brandished our pound notes and wallowed in the misfortunes of others.
We bought their wine for a few pence and their cigars for a farthing and their theatre tickets for an old song, and boasted about it, while they were half-starved and desperately frightened for the future. But they never once reproached us for our profiteering and our arrogance — and never, through all the semi-starvation and the fear, did the sound of laughter entirely die away in the Salzkammergut.
It is unbelievable to think of now. In those days we had just finished fighting a bloody war against those very people. We had been trained on Europe’s pet curriculum of Hatred. We had been told by innumerable fat sergeant-majors and over- Kümmelled major-generals that there was no good Hun except a dead Hun.
New introduction by Alan Sutton.
A. G. Macdonell, (1895-1941) was a journalist and satirical novelist. Without doubt his best-known work was England Their England, but the success of this overshadows his other books, many of which were classics in their own way. The Autobiography of a Cad must surely rank as one of the funniest books ever written and Lords and Masters is a cutting and hard-hitting satire with frightening prescience, foreseeing the Second World War as inevitable.
His American trip in 1934 is amusingly related in A Visit to America, but his other non-fiction is also powerful and beautifully written, with his highly regarded Napoleon and his Marshals providing one of the best accounts of the Napoleonic Wars in one single volume.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm