The Scarperer : His novel by Brendan Behan
New York : Doubleday & Co., 1964. First edition. Stated. Hardcover. 158 pages ; 22 cm. $3.95 dust jacket with water stain on jacket. Musty odor to pages. Pages are age toned and unmarked. Binding firm.
Ireland's brilliant and outspoken bard laureate —the flamboyant author of Borstal Boy and The Hostage — now turns his attention to the Novel form and makes it his own. Behan deftly conjures up a cheerful, sneerful, riotous tale about a daring jailbreak and an even more daring plot of switched identities...
Through the kind—although solicited— assistance of a mysterious eminence known as The Scarperer a malevolent trio of toughs effects a breakout from Mountjoy Penitentiary. With them is a fellow prisoner, a man called The Limey.
Once outside, The Limey is given ample cause to conclude that he is still not free; The Scarperer has made arrangements to fit him out with a French identity—clothing, papers, a tattoo .. . and to murder him, The Limey's body is to be dumped overboard (from a scow) off the coast of France. Then, according to plan, it shall wash up onto the beach and be misidentified as the cadaver of a certain dastardly Frenchman whose criminal dossier is thus to be stamped fin. Will this daring scheme remain undetected and unpunished? Will the nasty Frenchman live to take advantage of his new lease on a new life? Will success spoil The Scarperer?
Mr. Behan provides as background to this delightful tale a room-at-the-bottom view of Irish and Parisian saloon society, scanning such lovely spots as The Mendacity and The Morning Star, for example, and featuring the likes of Tralee Trembles, and Pig's Eye, and M'sieu le Tramtrack (who, on advice of counsel, remained abed for thirty years to collect damages from a trolley company).
Of Brendan Behans thrilling and explosive Borstal Boy, critics wrote:
"dramatic, high-spirited, funny, tender, compassionate. And intelligent... Mr. Behan is no gifted leprechaun. He is a highly conscious, craftsmanlike, accomplished writer."
John Wain in the New York Times
"remarkable and marvelous .. . the voice of a man who will not be stilled..." Catholic World
"When you cease to notice the four letter words, you become aware that behind them is a shuddering sensibility and the innocence of an acolyte, and at the end you are left with an impression that is ... edifying and inspiring." Frank O'Connor in the Chicago Tribune
"The book is written without great literary cunning; it is less bawdy than has been rumored; it is not quite as funny as the author imagines, and without doubt is the most important book of its kind to be published this century." New Statesman
"... scarcely ever can dialogue have been handled with such a virtuoso understanding of accent and rhythm..." The Times Literary Supplement
"Mr. Behan's prose has the vitality of good talk . . . and it tells us most movingly of the mixture of good and evil in humankind." New York Herald Tribune
"... a dazzling display of Irish pyrotechnics, ranging from the most subtle and exact rendering of the dialogue ... to a veristic account of the filth, squalor, and abnormality of prison life." Library Journal
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