A Difficult Young Man
"A Difficult Young Man is the second of Martin Boyd's novels dealing with the Anglo-Australian family the Langtons.
"The story is set around Melbourne and in England at the end of the nineteenth century and the 'difficult young man' of the title is Dominic Langton: intense, proud, good looking - considered eccentric by those who have no sympathy with him.
"Martin Boyd has drawn the background of his novel from his own famous Australian family and he has said that Dominic, while a fictional character, is based on his own brother Merric, in his youth.
"Although he wrote A Difficult Young Man 'largely to entertain' the book reveals Boyd's great psychological insight into his characters."
"Urbane and witty and eminently civilised...a subtle and beautifully observed social comedy" - Times Literary Supplement
When I told Julian I would write this book, the first intention was that it should be about my grandparaents, but we agreed that it should also be an exploration of Dominic's immediate forbears to discover what influences had made him what he was, and above all to discover what in fact he was. We realized that to do this it might be necessary to empty all the cupboards to see which of the skeltons were worth reclothing, if possible, with flesh. This may bring an accusation of ancestor-worship, or at least of family obession, but if one has been brought up in the thick of a large clan of slightly eccentric habits, it is difficult not to be obessed with it, if only in the effort to disentangle oneself and to reach some normal viewpoint, if such a thing exists. It would be as reasonable to accuse the passengers in a lumbering Spanish galleon, with the gorgeous sails in tatters, the guns rusty, and the gilt falling off the poop, of being self-conscious of their means of transport when they are surrounded by submarines and speedboats. Their situation is even worse when the Spanish galleon is only a frame of mind. Also nearly everyone between the ages of eighteen and thirty turns against his family and wants to escape from it. When he is sixty he wants to creep back to the nursery fireside, but it is no longer there.
From the Lansdowne paperback edition, 1978.
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Last modified: October 24, 2003.