Robinson is a modern Mephistopheles - a fascinating but dissolute manipulator of people and situations. As he haunts the rain-sodden streets of Soho, Robinson draws the narrator into a vortex of seduction, moral decay and sexual collusion.
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Chris Petit's novel Robinson triumphs as a portrayal of a life spiralling out of control and of the bleak anonymity of the city of London. His narrator, bored and indifferent to domesticity and the dead rituals of office life, meets the enigmatic Robinson and falls under his curious charm.
It is interesting, though not essential to the enjoyment of the novel, to know a little of the history of Robinson the literary character. He seems to first turn up in 1932 in Louis-Ferdinand Céline's masterpiece, Journey to the End of the Night. He then goes underground for a while before emerging over a decade later in the strange and electrifying poems of Weldon Kees. Another disappearance, along with Kees's own, a gap of a further 30 years or so, and Robinson emerges in the poetry of Simon Armitage.
Petit has used the slowly emerging Robinson mythos to good advantage, adding and building on it, creating a novel that h as much in common with the tone of Céline and the Kees poems; here also is a novel that journeys through the night. Robinson is beguiling, mysterious, strangely familiar, charming, deceitful, dangerous, tragic and wilful. Petit's narrator slowly allows himself to be sucked into Robinson's seedy world, permitting Robinson's will to manipulate his own. He becomes a willing sidekick to Robinson's increasingly dangerous and depraved enterprises.
Petit intended the novel to be set in the near future and certain parts of the later stages of the novel read like Briti sh news summaries from the autumn of 2000. It is a credit to Petit's keen eye for all that is monstrous and messy in British society that this is so. It is also slightly worrying, for one is left with the nasty feeling that some of the other dark events he has imagined might also lurk up and intrude on our daily lives. --Iain RobinsonAbout the Author:
Christopher Petit is a writer and filmmaker whose work includes documentaries for television and the feature films Chinese Boxes and Radio On.
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Book Description Vintage, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: very good b-format paperback. 1st printing. Dark, labyrinthine, and totally consuming, Robinson is part metaphysical detective novel, part psychological thriller--a novel of obsession, moral decay, voyeurism, and sexual collusion, set in a seedy and violent London. Bookseller Inventory # FR16.374