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Divine and Decay by Bill Hopkins first edition 1957

Divine and Decay by Bill Hopkins first edition 1957



Divine and Decay 

London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1957


8vo., blue publisher’s cloth, backstrip lettered vertically in black with publisher’s name to foot; together in the unclipped publisher’s dust jacket (15s net); pp. [iv], 5-234, [ii]; essentially a fine copy, with small patch of sunning to foot of spine; the vibrant pink jacket with a couple of small spots to verso, and some light shelf wear to the lower panel; a couple of almost indiscernible rubbings, marks and scratches to spine. 


First edition, printed at the Thanet Press, Margate. 


Bill Hopkins is considered to be one of the authors labelled the  Angry Young Men, a collection of working and middle-class playwrights and authors whose work was characterised by an outspoken dissatisfaction with the status quo, and particularly the so-called Political Establishment of the day. Along with leading figures such as John Osborne and Kingsley Amis, Hopkins formed part of a small group of young existentialist philosophers led by Colin Wilson. 


The seed of the idea for Divine and Decay, Hopkins’ only novel, was sown when Hopkins and Wilson were in Paris in 1953, and there they discussed Russell’s treatment of Freidrich Nietzsche in Russell’s influential History of Western Philosophy. Hopkins’ plot revolves around a fictional political party the New Britain Party, who’s co-founder decides to have his counterpart murdered. Travelling to Vachau in the Channel Island in order to give himself an alibi, he meets a woman who discovers his true purpose, and who in turn decides he must die. The island of Vachau is a thinly-masked portrayal of Sark, where Hopkins travelled in order to carry out research for the novel. 


In 1976, a real right-wing New Britain Party was founded. Called an "avowedly racist party" by The Observer, it ran until 2008, when it was deregistered. 

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