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The Glittering Prizes

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews

Frederic Raphael's brilliant and absorbing portrait of a group of young men and women pursuing the 'Glittering Prizes' of life--whatever they imagine them to be - has long been considered a classic. Spanning the period from the 1950s to the 1970s, a time when English society was changing with disconcerting speed, the characters are first seen as students at Cambridge,

Mass Market Paperback, 1977 Reprint, 297 pages
Published 1976 by Penguin Books
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Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
3.5 stars, really, but Raphael managed to keep surprising me in a positive way, just when I found myself thinking things were getting a bit too brittle, or too formulaic, so I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. I will give a longer review in a couple of days, but need to mull it over a bit first.

OK: here's the review -

"The Glittering Prizes" was first published in the mid 1970's and almost immediately made into a highly acclaimed BBC television series. Indeed, there's Tom Conti (the
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
Captures the cognitive dissonance and quiet satisfied resignation of the successful, left leaning British intellectual, who knows what is right, but often does what is convenient.
Marie (UK)
Jun 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was so confusing it had no narrative and a cast of moulded characters all of whom could have been the same person. A series of hardly connected events it was just dull dull dull
Dan Lalande
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Frederic Raphael's novelization of his acclaimed 1976 TV series, a group portrait of post-war Cambridge graduates sent out on the crooked road from carefree collegian to cultural commodity. It's mostly dialogue, for which Raphael possesses a fine if pushy gift. The prize character is, of course, the autobiographical one: the militant wit whose forked flippancy semi-rescues him from the maw of self-importance. In Raphael's world, it's survival of the glibbest.
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. For fans of Evelyn Waugh and David Lodge. Extraordinary, witty dialogue.
Mark Laing
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow, did I really think this was an amazing TV series back in the 70s? Maybe it was. I don't quite know what to make of the "book" (or is it a TV script?). I naively figured it would be a great read.

There's barely any description of the characters who blithely appear, reappear several chapters later. Everyone is frightfully witty and toss away French phrases as if everyone knows them (Probably in the 50s and 70s if you went to Cambridge you did).

Basically, anyone who went to Cambridge in the
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set in 1950s -1970s Britain the story follows the lives of several students from their days at Cambridge to their successes and failures in later life. The main character Adam Morris, Jewish, who marries a gentile becomes a successful novelist. His enduring sarcasm about all life situations is his way of dealing with his life (I assume).
The novel has a huge cast of characters which at times becomes confusing (middle chapters) so a key at the start of the book would be helpful. In those days it
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books - re-read frequently. This was made in 1976 into a 6-episode BBC mini-series, I guess you'd call it, which aired in the U.S. on PBS in 1977 and was phenomenal. It was beautifully written and acted, with Tom Conti in the lead at the top of his game, and a brilliant ensemble cast. (I've tried for YEARS to find this production on VHS or DVD, but the BBC was not releasing it or answering queries, which led me and other interested folks to fear that the masters had ...more
Fashion and Textile Museum
Frederick Raphael’s tale of a group of Cambridge undergraduates begins in the 1950s and follows their progress into the 1970s, scanning perhaps two of the most socially significant decades of the 20th century. Adapted for television, it starred Tom Conti as Adam Morris (yes, that’s where your mum gets her Conti crush from), a young Jewish boy who wins a scholarship to Cambridge and moves through six 75-minute plays covering themes including sexual politics, abortion, class, religion, racism, ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really good stuff, 4.5 stars easy, one of the wittiest books I've ever read. Came to the author after getting the hard sell on a GREAT 60s film called "Nothing But The Best" that Raphael was the screenwriter on, he also wrote the SP for a really solid Audrey Hepburn flick, and wait for it did Eyes Wide Shut.

Hmm really hard to not bump it to five, we'll see how it sits.
Marie Bouteille
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's easy and pleasant to read and full of wit. A kind of saga following Cambridge students through different moments in their lives. I may be wrong but you don't read about antisemitism or racism in the UK that often and it was interesting.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit boring at times and difficult to continue, and very witty at others. I like the progression of seeing them youthful and thirsty for the world to when they've become older and what they thought they'd never be.
Marcus Clark
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Reads like a movie script --- nearly all dialogue, it was serialized by BBC, and quite good on TV.
Very witty, punny, sharp, but empty. Says nothing; characters are too similar, empty, amusing, but covers a void.
Mike Finn
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent evocation of 50s Cambridge.
May 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
Another boring book about what people do after Cambridge...this could be a whole genre to itself, I've read hundreds of books about post-Cambridge life. Blah.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not ageing well.
Anyusha Rose
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Writer, critic and broadcaster, Frederic Raphael was educated at Charterhouse School and at St John's College, Cambridge. He has written several screenplays and fifteen novels. His The Glittering Prizes was one of the major British and American television successes of the 1970s.