Fox in Attic
Richard Hughes
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Fox in Attic

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  27 reviews
This, the first volume in Hughes's trilogy "The Human Predicament", takes rich young Augustine to Bavaria on the eve of Hitler's ill-fated 1923 Munich putsch and ends with the departure into a convent of Augustine's romantic first love, the blind Mitzi.
Mass Market Paperback
Published by Signet (first published January 1st 1961)
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Lewis Weinstein
... just started ... but here is something I never heard before.

It is widely reported that the German people, and the army, were shocked when Germany agreed to an armistice and basically admitted they had lost WWI. It became one of Hitler's main selling points, and a huge lie, that Germany had been "stabbed in the back" by Jews and Communists.

Hughes writes that the English were equally shocked to have won. After years of simply feeding young men into a death machine in the trenches (14 million d...more
Justin Evans
I'm suspending judgment on this for the time being; Hughes said that he only published 'The Human Predicament' in sections because otherwise it might never get published at all. So this is only one episode in a much longer work, kind of like taking the third volume of Proust on its own, except even less complete in itself. After just this book, the Tolstoyan project seems a little heavy handed: private scene with fictional characters over here; public scene with historical characters over here;...more
Frank Muller
The intimate portrait of Adolf Hitler's youthful efforts on behalf of the nascent Nazi party is worth the price of admission - I always think that Hitler is a boring topic, but Hughes delivers with his description of an injured and hallucinating "Uncle 'Dolph" hiding in a friend's attic (he's not the "fox," though). Hughes, as in _High Wind In Jamaica_ excels at writing children. It really is remarkable the way the man can conjure them up. His children ring true to me.

For all this novel lacks i...more
After two successful novels in 1929 and 1938, Hughes did not publish anything full-length until 1961 when this first volume of an (incomplete) proposed trilogy emerged.
Set in 1923, the story follows a 22-year-old somewhat solitary aristocratic Englishman, heir to a family house near the Welsh coast but unwilling to hire the staff to keep it in style (owing to discomfort with the class hierarchy rather than parsimony), nor mix with the local townspeople. We think the scene is being set with a hos...more
Molly Jones
Sort of deceiving, the first half of the book I loved (which centered around the killing of a young girl, the body of whom the main character, Augustine, discovers). The second half of the book slowed down a bit too much for me as it began to incorporate the dawning of World War II. Too bad Hughes never finished his trilogy.
Martha Garvey
First 75 pages are remarkable. Hughes writes flawlessly from the child's point of view. Somehow, though, once he sends his protagonist from Wales to Germany, the narrative unravels. Still worth the read.
Daren Kearl
A sprawling plot that was the start of an unfinished trilogy linking the two World Wars, it starts in England with several characters and then moves via Alexandra, who travels to visit German relatives, to Bavaria. Here is the really interesting bit, as I had no knowledge of the Putsch and Hitler's early attempts at a political coup. It is also slightly the jarring problem, as well, because reading a fictional account which features Hitler, comes with so much connotation and foreknowledge, that...more
Its a gorgeous reading experience. For a long while, I've underestimated Hughes based on his one famous work, 'A High Wind in Jamaica' which --however well done--I never took to be a serious or formidable novel. It seemed delicate and toy-like.

But in this work, 'Fox'--all the true talent Hughes has in the fundamental mechanics of good prose are well on display and its a happy reminder of just what a fine, smooth, adroit hand he possessed at the craft. His scenes are wonderful; one glides effortl...more
Nicholas During
If you are a historical fiction (or military fiction) buff this is a book for you. Completely in the vein of War and Peace (and Walter Scott? I think it must be) this is one of those big Tolstoyan dramas where both fated historical events that can't be changed intersect with the daily, naive lives of the characters. It does however have a modern feel to it, with very short chapters and a rather strange authorial voice popping back and forth into the text now again.

It also, as behooves a Tolstoya...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
This book is very much the beginning of something bigger, a grand Tolstoyean project to unpick events in Germany and England between the wars. If Tolstoy was also a modernist, that is. Hughes' writing has both epic vision and a keen modernist eye for minutiae.

Because it is only a beginning it feels like a strange unwieldy creature at times. Chapters alternate in focus from the level of the individual to political movements to musings on the nature of postwar psychology. It is a great huge jumble...more
One of the most unsung masterpieces of XX th century fiction. Kind but smug, unaware of how grievously uneducated he is in spite of his Oxford degree, Augustine is a fabulously well-drawn antihero, who manages to spend several weeks under the same roof where one of Rathenau's killers is hiding without suspecting anything, even after the young man hangs himself and the police invade the castle. Of course, he is in love, or thinks he is, with a blind girl, never realising that that is his excuse f...more
Trevor Challenger
I persevered with this book against my own better judgement on the basis of some encouraging reviews both on this site and also on the cover of the book itself. Also, the subject matter seemed promising. However I found the book was intensely boring, badly written and clumsily expressed. The characters were uninteresting and poorly drawn. Although there were some interesting insights into the state of Germany following the Great War this book gives neither a very clear account of the appeal of N...more
It's pretty remarkable that anyone is able to write a work of fiction with Hitler as a character without totally failing, let alone doing an excellent job.

The difference between England and Germany in the 1920s, brought out by the landscape, the action, and the portraits of specific people, is paramount.

There's a bizarre, sporadic, black forest, fairy tale sort of tone that rises suddenly at the end of the book. It's a pretty clear contrast to the grim but much more innocent discovery of an Eng...more
Beautifully written historical fiction about a young Englishman in Germany during Hitler's ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The prose is just fantastic, every intricate sentence polished till it gleams. The story is strange, full of allusions and wild imagery, maybe sometimes a little slow but compelling nonetheless. Such a pity that Hughes died before he could complete the final novel of his Human Predicament cycle, of which this is the first book. Another great find from NYRB!
I am in two minds about this book - it has great narrative energy and some excellent moments both in the UK and in Germany, generally following the anti-hero Augustine, though he is more confused and undecided than anything else, but it also has some stuff that read as filler; the description of the Beer Hall Putsch is peerless though and I will try to find a copy of the sequel - the edition with the extra 12 chapters from the unwritten 3rd book
Dec 02, 2010 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
I loved this book. The juxtaposition between English country life and German country life were fascinating and the intimate perspective on the Munich putsch is chilling considering what came of it all. It is rare to get a look at the mindset of the post-WWI generation, especially the fanatical desire for peace and No More War which gave rise to precisely the opposite. A must read of anyone interested in 20th Century Europe.
This was a not a reading experience that benefited from me leaving it and returning to it in 20 page chunks. In fact, it really never forgave me for it. I agree with other reviewers that the narrative lost a bit of its thread once it changed locations. It was hard for me to stay firmly rooted in the historical context of this one (hello: Hitler is a main character) rather than the story.
Cooper Renner
Both impressive and entertaining, Fox in the Attic moves from rural England to (mostly) rural Germany in 1923, as the German economy collapses further and further and royalists, Nazis and communists all struggle for power. But the focal point is a young upperclass Englishman, Augustine, whose life is, if not quite in turmoil, certainly not going well.
Derek Bridge
In this story of inter-war England and Germany, the inner lives of damaged individuals are played against the backdrop of damaged countries; self-obsession blinds people to the hurt of others; and no-one seems to be aware of what the (vividly described) calamitous events of the Munich beer hall putsch herald for the future. Powerful writing.
Such an amazing story, and I ended up shouting at Augustine for not speaking up or pursuing Mitzi.

I was also so upset that the author had died before finishing the trilogy, that I haven't gone on to read the second novel...
Marian Kaye
This is my 2nd read from Hughes. "A High Wind in Jamaica" was the first one. Excellent stories. I enjoyed the historical bits about the time period especially on the intimacy of Hitler's background.
Rating this one feels odd, as it's very much designed as the first part of a longer work -- so my complaint that it feels somewhat incomplete is kind of stating the obvious...
The narration in the novel is interesting and keeps the plot moving, but you find yourself wondering why he includes certain scenes.
This author shows a side of English-German relations during the rise of Hitler that explains a lot of how the cataclysm occurred.
Gain some insite into what conditions in Germany lead the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party.
I am sure this is a perfectly good book and that I simply wasn't in the mood for it.
Leslie Harbold
Disappointing. Don't like anyone in this book. They are all weird.

Polly and Rachel

Chapter 1

Only the steady creaking of a flight of swans disturbed the silence, labouring low overhead with outstretched necks towards the sea.
Melinda marked it as to-read
Apr 21, 2014
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NYRB Classics: The Fox in the Attic, by Richard Hughes 1 6 Oct 23, 2013 08:52AM  
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  • Soul of Wood
  • The Pumpkin Eater
  • Irretrievable
  • A House and Its Head
  • Riders in the Chariot
  • The Slaves of Solitude
  • Hindoo Holiday
  • Great Granny Webster
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
  • A Game of Hide and Seek (Virago Modern Classics)
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Lolly Willowes
  • Hav : Comprising Last Letters from Hav and Hav of the Myrmidons
  • In Love
  • The Snows of Yesteryear
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Richard Arthur Warren Hughes OBE was a British writer of poems, short stories, novels and plays.
More about Richard Hughes...
A High Wind in Jamaica In Hazard The Wooden Shepherdess (The Human Predicament, #2) The Spider's Palace and Other Stories (Looking Glass Library) Gertrude's Child

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“Since landscape changes like this from country to country it must owe very little to Nature: Nature is no more than the canvas, and landscape the self-portrait the people who live there paint on it. But no, hold hard! Surely, rather the people who have lived there; for landscape is always at least one generation behind in its portrayal.” 1 likes
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