Caught by Henry Green / ISBN 9781681370125 / 208-page paperback from NYRB Classics
"The subject of all Henry Green’s later novels is the inner language and landscape in which his characters lead their real lives. . . . This distinctly upper-class artist is pretty well the first English novelist to have listened to working-class speech and to have understood its overtones and undertones. . . . He could of course have been playing a clever game; but he was not. The morbid, the comic, the lyrical, and even the mannered aspects of his talent were not affected: fierce, fantastic and eccentric as it could be, his material came from the outside and mingled with his nature."--V.S. Pritchett
During the Blitz, Henry Green served on the London Auxiliary Fire Service, and this experience lies behind Caught, published when the bombing had only recently ended. Like Green, Richard Roe, the hero of this resolutely unheroic book, comes from the upper class. His wife remains at their country estate, far from the threatened city, while Roe serves under Pye, a professional fireman whose deranged sister once kidnapped Roe’s young son, a bad memory that complicates the relationship between these two very different men. The book opens as the various members of the brigade are having practice runs and fighting boredom and sleeping around in the months before the attack from the air. It ends with Roe, who has been injured in the bombing, back in the country, describing and trying to come to terms with the apocalyptic conflagration in which he and his fellows were caught, putting into question the very notion of ordinary life.
Caught was censored at the insistence of its publisher, Leonard Woolf, when it came out in 1943. This is the first American edition of the book to appear as Green intended.
Henry Green (1905–1973) was the pen name of Henry Vincent Yorke. Born near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, England, he was educated at Eton and Oxford and went on to become the managing director of his family’s engineering business, writing novels in his spare time. His first novel, Blindness (1926), was written while he was at Oxford. He married in 1929 and had one son, and during the Second World War served in the Auxiliary Fire Service. Between 1926 and 1952 he wrote nine novels, Blindness, Living, Party Going, Caught, Loving, Back, Concluding, Nothing, and Doting, and a memoir, Pack My Bag.