A Way Of Life by Peter Wildeblood

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1956, Hardback in Dust Wrapper. 1st Ed.

Condition: Good in Poor Dust Wrapper. Unlaminated dust wrapper a little edgeworn and faded with tape repairs to the head of the spine and the bottom corner of the upper panel. Price Clipped. Edges of the text block lightly tanned. Text complete, clean and tight but a little age-tanned.

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From the cover: A WAY OF LIFE is one of those rare books in which the realism of a documentary report is combined with the imaginative intensity usually found only in the novel. In this, his second book, Peter Wildeblood has taken as his theme the “No-Mans Land” which exists between crime and respectability. It is a territory which has been explored by no other writer, and the characters who inhabit it are instantly recognisable as real people, although their counterparts are not to be found anywhere else in contemporary literature.

Mr. Wildeblood takes as his subject the whole, strange world of the people who for one reason or another are out of step with the times, together with the men and women who prey on them and those who devote their lives to helping them. Clergymen and drug addicts, prostitutes, policemen, journalists and philanthropists are among the characters, and the author, following them in their separate paths, describes what happens when those paths cross. There is Waldemar von Ochs, the snobbish and self-seeking novelist who writes a sensational novel and spends the rest of his life pretending that he hasnt; Perry Jefferson, the convict who becomes a popular singer and takes to marijuana cigarettes; Stepney Pam, the Cockney prostitute with a surrealist sense of humour, and her French rival Babette who talks like Yvonne Arnaud impersonating Arthur English; there is Gordon Poole, the manager of a hardware shop, who suddenly finds out the truth about his own nature and touches the depths of degradation before he discovers his true way of life; and Reggie, the Teddy Boy who keeps house for French Babette while she walks the Soho streets.

In AGAINST THE LAW, Mr. Wilde-blood put the case for a change in the legal attitude towards homosexuality, basing his arguments on his own experience of prosecution and imprisonment. In his new book, he examines this problem in greater detail, and concludes that the state of the law is not the only factor that prevents homosexuals from playing their full part in the life of the community. He believes that concessions must be made on both sides; by the homosexual himself, no less than by men and women of normal instincts. To illustrate this point, he presents a series of frank and sometimes moving portraits of sexual misfits, examining their individual difficulties in finding a way of life in which their own needs may be reconciled with those of the society in which they live.

Mr. Wildebloods first book showed that he was a writer of distinctive quality; A WAY OF LIFE is a merciless exposure of social attitudes, written with the same astringent candour and warm humanity that made AGAINST THE LAW one of the most widely-praised books of 1955.


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