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Архитектура Theme 1. The English literature of the post-war period.
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Проектно-кошторисна документація інвестиційного проекту.

Проектуванняє важливим етапом щодо реалізації проекту, так як закладені в проекті технологічні, конструктивні та інші пла­нувальні рішення важко змінити, коли будівництво вже почалося.

Проект будівництва, реконструкції або технічного переоз­броєння складається з 2-х частин:

- комплексу проектної документації;

- кошторисної документації.

Проектна документаціяохоплює три складові частини:

- технологічну;

- будівельну;

- техніко-економічну.

Технологічна частинаскладається із схеми виробництва (тех­нологічно взаємопов'язаних одиниць обладнання), технологічних етапів щодо виготовлення продукції та обсягів її виробництва.

Будівельна частинавизначає стандартні вимоги до об'ємно-планувальних і конструктивних рішень. Об'ємно-планувальні рішення передбачають розміщення основних підсобних приміщень, цехів, розміри їх площі і об'єму. Конструктивні рішення передбачають використання найбільш доцільних будівельних матеріалів, конструкцій і деталей.

Техніко-економічна частина проектуохоплює передінвестиційні дослідження та ТЕО, розрахунки економічних показників ефективності інвестиційних проектів, які визначаються на підставі передпроектної документації.

Найважливішими елœементами всієї проектної документації є:

- кош­торис,

- бюджет і

- план фінансування проекту.

Кошторис— це сукупність нормативних розрахунків, які визначають вартість робіт зі спорудження окремого об'єкта.

Інвесторська кошторисна документація - це сукуп­ність кошторисів (кошторисних розрахунків), відомостей кошторисної вартості пускових комплексів, черг будів­ництва, зведень витрат, пояснювальних записок до них та відомостей ресурсів, складених на стадії розроблення про­ектної документації.

Інвесторська кошторисна документація формується в такій послідовності: спочатку складають локальні кошториси на виконання будівельних і спеціальних робіт, придбання і монтаж обладнання, потім – об'єктні кошториси на будівництво окремих будинків і споруд, і насамкінець, зведений кошторисний розраху­нок і зведення витрат.

1. Peculiarities of the social-cultural and historical development of the Great-Britain after the Second World War

2. General tendencies of development of the English novel in the post-war period.

3. The English realistic anti-colonial novel of the 50’s-60’s of the XX-th century.

4. Works of G. Green in the context of anti-colonial novel.

5. Works of Ch.P. Snow: epic cycle “Strangers and Brothers”.

1. After the war, which ended in may 1945, there were elections two months later. Churchill didn't win the election, the labour Government won 1945-1950. They put forward a lot of social legislation. They created the National Health Service and nationalised industry. The state paid attention to culture. They created “Arts Council” in 1946 which promoted culture.

After the war there were not many occasions of joy. The future in international affairs was not very promising. The most important events were the following ones:

The Government imposed rationing

The creation of the state of Israel (1948)

The creation of the NATO (1949)

The British Empire was gradually beginning to disintegrate. For example, India became independent in 1957.

In the 50's the main worries of the Government were economic. Britain was a country like any other and main problems were:

Fear of inflation

Industrial production.

An important event is that European community was established in 1959. Great Britain finally realized that it was not a world empire. The world empires were USSR & United States.

The term “consumer society”, contrived after the Second World War, indicates that consumption has become a central mode of existence in Great Britain and other Western societies. That was a popular trend which operated on national and international levels, international commerce was organized and the diffusion of products from the colonies was provided. After the Second World War there actually took place a so-called “consumer revolution”. Consumption gained prominence in public discourse already in the 17th century in Britain and in the second half of the 20th century modern consumption combined further multiplication and diversification of goods. There were a lot of other phenomena: the importance and growth of colonies, the development of modern Western market economy, appearance of new communication technologies and rapid processes of urbanization.

In that era of complicated technologies people could not very frequently adjust themselves to the world they were now living in because their intellectual abilities and inclinations demanded something higher of various jobs they were looking for. Class divisions of pre-war Britain still persisted despite the economic boom. Anger and resentment of the young people against “the system” stem from frustration at being unable to put their intelligence to more creative use.

2. In the fiction of the post-war years, just as in poetry, there are no easily identifiable lines of development. So it is only possible to speak about individual novelists, some of whom share particular themes and techniques in their work.

In the late 1940s end early 1950s, following the consequences of World War II, the public did not look for brave new ideas and styles, but for comfort and reassurance in literature. However, by 1955 the old values which religion and nation had traditionally provided were being questioned, and a new generation of critical young novelists, playwrights and artists emerged. The 1950s where characterized by the appearance of Neorealism, a trend which worked against Modernism.

Novelists such as Alan Sillitoe (“Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”), Kingsley Amis (“Lucky Jim”), John Wain (“Hurry On Down”) and Sid Chaplin (“The Sardine Day”) were mostly under 30, and like many of the British readers at the time, they shared an impatience with tradition, authority and the ruling class. Many novels are set in working-class areas of depressed cities in the industrial north and contain sexually explicit scenes. These novels are known as industrial novels. Dialogue is often carried out in regional dialects, giving a strong sense of the characters’ identity and social background. The protagonists of these novels are 'outsiders': they do not identify with modern society. Like the authors themselves they are dissatisfied and critical of conventional morality and behaviour. They feel resentful and powerless, and sometimes are violent.

The creation of uneducated, undisciplined heroes was a departure from literary conventions, but it meant that frankness, honesty and openness were introduced into literature (novel and drama, but also television and film) by a group of writers who became known as the "angry young men". Realist and ‘angry’ novels were by no means the only ones written during the '50s and '60s. Other novelists were interested in religious and metaphysical problems. The best example was William Golding, who created a moral fable of the human condition. In his most popular novel, Lord of the Flies (1954), he stated the "end of innocence", the darkness of man's heart, and denied all hope of positive values existing even temporarily among children. During the 1960s the resentment and frustration of the 1950s began to develop into a countercultural movement. At the same time, some of the most highly praised authors of recent times were recognized as major writers. Their themes were diverse, but freedom and equality tended to predominate. Issues of personal morality were frequently expressed in stories of the 1960s and 1970s. An important development in the postwar period is the rise of the so-called "feminist literature". A new consciousness of the peculiarity of women's outlook and social role opens up new directions for women's writing.

Women's writing, as a discrete area of literary studies and practice, is based on the notion that the experience of women, historically, has been shaped by their gender, and so women writers are a group worthy of separate study on the basis that their texts appear in conditions usually very different from those which produced most writing by men.

Women's writing is recognized by the numbers of dedicated journals, organizations, awards and conferences which focus mainly on texts produced by women.

3.The English realistic anti-colonial novel in the 50-60’s of the XX-th century developed in the way of representation of the fall of the English colonialism in artistic form. The main representatives of this kind of novel in the second half of the XX-th century were the following writers such as Basil Davidson (“The Rapids”), Desmond Stewart (“The Unsuitable Englishman”), James Aldridge (“The Diplomat”) and Graham Greene (“The Quiet American”).

Basil Davidson (1914 - 2010) was born in Bristol, England, and led a rich and successful life. He became an accomplished contributor to the studies of African history. His important contributions in the field developed a school of modern African history, where the prejudices and presumptions of African civilization were abandoned and archaeological evidence was embraced. His study of African history and archaeology helped change the view of African civilizations from being "backward" or unrefined to a view of an Africa that was sophisticated both culturally and technologically. His career includes the membership of the editorial staff for The Economist. Afterwards he served in the British Army from 1940-1945, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His military accomplishments include the Military Cross and the US Army Bronze Star. Afterwards he returned to writing as a Paris corespondent in London for The Times, he held this position until 1947 when he became a European leader writer for two years. Throughout this career he spent much of his time on free-lance writing. Davidson's book "The Lost Cities of Africa" won him the 1960 Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best book which dealt with racial problems in creative literature. He earned a lot of other medals, awards and honorary degrees from the Open University of Great Britain in 1980, and the University of Edinburgh in 1981. For his film "Africa" he won the Gold Award from the International Film and Television Festival of New York in 1984. Basil Davidson's work helped break the narrow views of Africa and promoted study of the history and culture in a more favourable light. Davidson’s book West Africa before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850 emphasizes the sophistication of pre-colonial Africa in a very accessible manner. It is written for people not familiar with West African history. Davidson gives many stories on various kingdoms and themes in this book. Some of the chapter topics include: antiquity of West African history, the Ghana empire, Mali, eastern Sudan and other societies. Davidson challenges his readers to forget racial boundaries and understand the enormous, complex region.

Another book, The Black Man's Burden, collects most of Basil Davidsons's ideas. Davidson made this book as an attempt to offer all of his wisdom and conclusions from a lifetime of study of Africa. He notes the difficulty in analysing African history, especially in dealing with the Eurocentric point-of-view. The liberation of Africa was not true. It was just a change from one kind of dominance to another. Africa was still somewhat under the power of Europe after all the countries had been freed. Davidson emphasizes the use of Eurocentric and racist approaches of the colonists towards the Africans. He emphasizes the strength of pre-colonial Africa and its ability to solve its own problems.

The Search for Africa is a collection of essays and articles written by Davidson between 1953 and 1992. He wrote these as Africa broke free from colonial rule and began to recover. The troubles currently existing in Africa are the result of the poor colonial rule. Colonial rule hurt Africans because they used it as their example of democracy. Under such circumstances nationalism was a uniting and freeing force, but it has expired. Davidson suggests that Africa needs to rescue the social policies of pre-colonial Africa that created stability and curbed corruption. Davidson does not offer many concrete solutions to the problems of Africa. He merely presents his ideas but just the same he is consistent in his passion for African studies.

Desmond Stewart (1924–1981)was a British journalist, historian, a researcher of the Arabian world, mainly he was interested in Egypt. The most important works are: “The Early Islam”, “The Pyramids and Sphinx”, “The Alhambra”,”The Arab world”, “Turkey”, “Mecca”, “Cairo”, “Great Cairo: Mother of the World”, “The Usuitable Englishman”, “Leopard in the grass”, “Palestinians: Victims of Expediency” and many others.

The novel “The Unsuitable Englishman” concentrates on the adventures of the main hero, Candy Jason, who follows his impulse to see the East and whose decision to stay there brings about an international crisis. Jason makes the ""leap of faith"" and is absorbed into Median life, living with the taxicab driver Hassan, becoming singer Kareema, Kareema's lover and taking the job as chauffeur. He is on friendly and equal terms with the native population and is on their side, Jason supports their demands and needs. In breaking out of the British prison of civilization Jason's flouting of acceptable English behavior goes from teatable talk to diplomatic circles, arouses the vengeance of Hugh Flodden, the chief leader of the British policy, and brings Jason out into the open conflict with the reigners. Hugh's derelictions are made public but Jason is able to linger in the land of his choosing and on his own terms.

James Aldridgewas born in 1918, in White Hills, Victoria, Australia. He is the English author, public figure and war correspondent.

Aldridge attended a Melbourne commercial college. In 1938 he moved to England. His work as a journalist and war correspondent on many fronts during World War II gave him an understanding of life and a grasp of writing technique. His first three novels, Signed with Their Honour (1942), The Sea Eagle (1944) and Of Many Men (1946) are stories of men in battle in Greece, Crete, Egypt, Finland and Russia, they reflect both the heroism of the national resistance movement and the changes that the epochal victory over fascism brought.

Aldridge energetically responds to the pressing problems of the times, advocating peace and the easing of international tensions, for example, in the novel The Diplomat (1949), for which he received the Gold Medal of Peace in 1953. This novel, published in twenty-five languages and a bestseller in Russia, established Aldridge as an important political novelist with Marxist persuasions. A story of the Anglo-American-Russian dispute over Iran and Iranian oil, The Diplomat combines a complicated political theme with an analysis of human motives. Other political novels by Aldridge, which are sometimes criticised as being vehicles for their author's political views rather than fiction, include Heroes of the Empty View; I Wish He Would Not Die; The Last Exile, encompassing the whole story of Egypt while focusing on the last days of British influence there. He is drawn to the fate of the common man who, under dramatic circumstances, conquers despair (The Hunter, 1950). The theme of the Soviet Union runs through all of Aldridge’s work. He clearly sees the complex nature of the fierce ideological struggle between the worlds of capitalism and socialism and its reflection in people’s consciousness (A Captive in the Land and its sequel The Statesman’s Game).

The breadth of Aldridge’s creative interests is demonstrated by his book Cairo; his cycle of Australian short stories, including “Bush Boy, Poor Boy” and “Victory for a Bush Boy” and his collection of short stories Gold and Sand. My Brother Tom (1966) which is one of Aldridge's few works concerned with Australia and it is engaged with religious fractions (Protestant and Catholic) in an Australian country town. Aldridge’s novels tend toward the genre of the heroic epic. They realistically reflect both the complicated path of the individual towards new horizons and the tragedy of the individualist, who has lost sight of these horizons. Aldridge received the Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations in 1973. Aldridge explores prejudices, religious conflicts in his work, presenting a complex view of the world through palpable characters.

4. Works of Graham Greene in the context of anti-colonial novel.Graham Greene, (1904- 1991) was a prolific English novelist, playwright, short story writer and critic whose works explore the ambiguities of modern man and ambivalent moral or political issues in a contemporary setting. Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a mere "Catholic novelist", his religion is reflected in most of his novels, and many of his best works (e.g. Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter and The Power and the Glory) are explicitly Roman Catholic in content and preoccupations. Greene was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, the fourth of six children - his younger brother Hugh was later to become the Director-General of the BBC, and older brother Raymond was an eminent doctor and mountaineer. Their parents were first cousins and members of a large and influential family which included various bankers and businessmen.

In school Graham was bullied and profoundly unhappy and made several attempts at suicide. In 1921 at the age of seventeen he underwent six months of psychoanalysis in London to deal with depression. He went to Balliol College, Oxford, and his first work (a volume of poetry) was published in 1925, while he was an undergraduate but it was not widely praised.

Early career.After graduation, Greene took up a career in journalism, firstly in Nottingham (a city which recurs in his novels as an epitome of mean provincial life), and then as a subeditor at The Times newspaper. While in Nottingham he started a correspondence with Vivien Dayrell-Browning, a Roman Catholic who had written to correct him on a point of Catholic doctrine. Greene converted to the faith in 1926, and the couple were married the following year.

Novels and other works. Greene's first published novel was The Man Within in 1929, and its reception made him give up his job at The Times and work full-time as a novelist. However, the following two books were not successful (Greene disowned them in later life), and his first real success was Stamboul Train in 1932 - as with several of his subsequent books, this novel was also adapted as a film (Orient Express, 1934). His income from novels was supplemented by freelance journalism, including book and film reviews for The Spectator, and co-editing the magazine Night and Day.

His fiction was originally divided into two genres: thrillers or mystery/suspense books, such as Brighton Rock, that he himself named as "entertainments" but which often included a notable philosophical edge, and literary works such as The Power and the Glory, on which his reputation was thought to be based. As his career lengthened, however, Greene and his readers both found the "entertainments" to be of nearly as high a value as the literary efforts, and Greene's later books such as The Human Factor, The Comedians, Our Man in Havana and The Quiet American are represented as works of remarkable insight and compression.

Writing style. Greene's novels are written in a contemporary, realistic style, often featuring characters troubled by self-doubt and living in seedy or rootless circumstances. The doubts were often of a religious nature, echoing the author's ambiguous attitude to Catholicism (by the end of his life he seems to have lost his faith, but still considered himself a Catholic). Unlike other "Catholic writers" such as Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Burgess, Greene's political views were essentially left-leaning, though some biographers believe politics mattered little to him. In his later years he was a strong critic of what he saw as American imperialism, and he supported the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whom he had met.

Travel. Throughout his life, Greene was obsessed with travelling far from his native England, to what he called the "wild and remote" places of the world. His travels provided him with opportunities to engage in espionage on behalf of the United Kingdom (in Sierra Leone during the Second World War, for example). He reworked the colorful and exciting characters and places he encountered into the fabric of his novels. "There is so much weariness and disappointment in travel that people have to open up- in railway trains, over a fire, on the decks of steamers, and in the palm courts of hotels on a rainy day. They have to pass the time somehow, and they can pass it only with themselves. Like the characters in Chekhov they have no reserves – you learn the most intimate secrets. You get an impression of a world peopled by eccentrics, of odd professions, almost incredible stupidities, and, to balance them, amazing endurances." Many of his books have been filmed, most notably 1947's Brighton Rock, and he also wrote several original screenplays.

Greene greatly enjoyed parody. In 1949, when the New Statesman publication held a contest for parodies of Greene's distinctive writing style, he submitted an entry under a pseudonym and won second prize. In 1965, Greene entered a similar New Statesman parody contest, again under a pseudonym, and won an honorable mention.

Final years.In the last years of his life Greene lived in the small resort city on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. In 1981 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to writers concerned with 'the freedom of the individual in society'. He died in 1991 at the age of 86.

October 2004 saw the publication of the third and final volume of The Life of Graham Greene by Norman Sherry, Greene's official biographer. The writing of this biography created a story in itself in that Sherry followed in Greene's footsteps, even coming down with diseases that Greene had come down with in the same place. Sherry's work reveals that Greene continued to submit reports to British intelligence until the end of his life. This has led scholars and Greene's reading public to entertain the provocative question, "Was Greene a novelist who was also a spy, or was his lifelong literary career just the perfect cover?"

5. Charles Percy Snow (1905-1980) became one of the most productive and accomplished fiction writers of his generation. He is best known, certainly, for the eleven highly autobiographical novels that make up the "Strangers and Brothers" sequence. But Snow also produced two very effective detective novels, Death Under Sail (1932) and A Coat of Varnish (1979).

Snow was born on 15 October 1905 in the suburb of Leicester, an industrial city located in the British Midlands. Snow's mother, Ada, was the daughter of servants; his father, William, worked at a local shoe factory and played the organ at area church services. Snow was clearly influenced by the fact that both his father and his paternal grandfather were themselves intellectually curious and the readers of serious books. As a child Snow was enrolled in a small, private school; between the ages of eleven and sixteen he attended a local secondary school, where he distinguished himself in the areas of science and math. In 1925 Snow won a scholarship to University College, Leicester, where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in physics. In 1928 Snow entered Christ's College, Cambridge, where--in 1930--he earned his doctorate in physics after completing a dissertation. Throughout the 1930s Snow remained in Cambridge as a fellow at Christ's Church and was thus able to work with an unusually gifted group of colleagues. As Snow later observed, this "was perhaps the most brilliant period in Cambridge intellectual history. The place was stiff with Nobel Prize winners."

At Cambridge Snow continued to conduct significant research in the fields of spectroscopy and crystallography. But at eighteen Snow had already decided that he was much more interested in writing fiction than in carving out a career in science and academia. As an undergraduate Snow completed his first novel, "a rather typical story of young people," he recalled, "trying to find love and purpose and so on." Soon realizing that there was little in this manuscript that was worth saving, Snow destroyed it.

In Death Under Sail, Snow's first published novel, Roger Mills - a young cancer specialist - is shot to death while sailing with six friends on the Norfolk Broads, a group of small, linked lakes in northeastern England. Initially all of Mills's guests - four men and two women - are considered suspects in his murder. One of them, Ian Capel, narrates the story. He is a witty and frank bachelor of fifty-three who is appropriately identified as a "well known clubman." As the reader soon realizes, Capel is also the least likely of the guests to commit first-degree murder and he asserts that he was elsewhere on the yacht during the early-morning moments when it occurred.

Assigned to investigate the crime is Detective-Sergeant, an excitable young Irishman who posseses a flaming enthusiasm for anything that was connected with crime. Birrell has has read a great many detective novels, which he praises for their consistent portrayal of policemen routing the forces of evil. The excitable Birrell requires a considerable help from a man identified only as Finbow, a friend of Capel's. Upon publication the book was largely praised by reviewers, who agreed that the "six pleasant people" who sail with Mills at the start of Death Under Sail remain effectively individualized - and suspicious - throughout its duration. Forty-four years after its first publication, Death Under Sail was included in series of Fifty Classics of Crime Fiction 1900-1950, pointing out in a prefatory note that the work remains "a neat little tale of classic mould: the murder among friends in a setting automatically restricted." Snow moves deftly to the crime's solution "through many wayward conversations, numerous ironic maxims about life and character, and a sound detective philosophy about the interplay of material and psychological clues."

By 1935 Snow had decided to focus entirely on the completion of a series of novels that would cover several decades and be linked by common characters, situations, and themes. The first of these, Strangers and Brothers (later retitled George Passant), was published in 1940, shortly after Snow had joined a Royal Society subcommittee designed to help direct the research centers of Britain's universities towards projects that would benefit a nation rearming itself for war. In 1942 Snow was named the Ministry of Labour's director of technical personnel and during the World War II played a crucial part in ensuring that the talents of British scientists were being effectively directed towards the defeat of Germany and its allies. Snow's wartime services enabled him to observe at close range the maneuvers and power plays of high-level politicians and governmental officials. Snow's knowledge of British politics is perhaps best displayed in The Light and the Dark (1947), Homecomings (1956), and Corridors of Power (1964), which, along with George Passant (1940), Time of Hope (1949), The Masters (1951), The New Men (1954), The Conscience of the Rich (1958), The Affair (1960), The Sleep of Reason (1968), and Last Things (1970), make up the "Strangers and Brothers" series. These eleven novels chronicle the life of the series narrator, Lewis Eliot, whose good mind and intense desire to become famous enable him to leave a small city in the Midlands for a career that would make him a barrister and a government minister, and that would involve him in many intriguing episodes. In The New Men, for example, Eliot is close to a group of British scientists working to develop an atomic bomb; later, in Corridors of Power, he finds himself involved in the long and heated debate over whether or not Britain should simply get rid of all nuclear arms. In The Sleep of Reason , one of the most gripping volumes in the series, Eliot witnesses the trial of two young women accused of the torture and murder of an eight-year-old boy. Snow admits that many of the more fascinating men and women who appear and reappear in the "Strangers and Brothers" series owe much to real-life models; that Eliot, moreover, owes a great deal to C.P. Snow. Both, for example, have mildly eccentric fathers who are fiercely independant men; both are fond of cricket and prefer the visual arts to music. Both are involved in academics as well as politics; both have eye problems and - late in life - suffer cardiac arrest.

Undoubtedly, Snow's reputation as a writer of fiction rests principally on the novels in the "Strangers and Brothers" sequence, most of which sold well in both Britain and North America throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Many reviewers and critics have praised these works not only for their thorough characterizations but also for their intelligence, compassion and frank willingness to deal with controversial issues in the public debate. Others, however, have argued that most of Snow's characters are mechanical and flat; that his plots tend to drag; that his prose is frequently stilted and bland. They suggest also that throughout his literary career Snow was employing a style of novel writing more appropriate to the nineteenth century. Indeed, Snow bluntly insisted on several occasions that he found the works of Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens far more satisfying and important than those produced by such influential modernists as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. To the great annoyance of many of his contemporaries, Snow argued that much highly praised modernist fiction was simply too self-absorbed and trivial; that it was characterized by a preoccupation with technique and content by the notion that intellectuals and artists must oppose the scientific-industrial revolution and stand alienated from the rest of society.

Snow's most controversial publication was surely The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959), a brief, argumentative essay informed by Snow's belief that Western civilization - having entered the atomic age and, with it, a period of social changes - was more than ever in need of unified guidance from its brightest minds. Unfortunately, argues Snow, intellectuals in the West tend to divide themselves into two opposing camps or "cultures" - one of them "scientific," the other literary, or "traditional." As a result they tend to regard each other with hostility and contempt. Snow does urge scientists to become more aware of the humanities, to study the works of Dickens and Rainer Maria Rilke, among others.

But much more energetically, Snow condemns "literary intellectuals" for their hostility to science and argues that science represents "the only hope for the poor." Much of Snow's later writing - particularly his fiction - reveals his growing sense that men and women in the West have, in fact, lost control of their environment; that the codes and customs that once kept irrationality and barbarism in check have simply fallen apart. Such pessimism is much in evidence in Snow's last novel, A Coat of Varnish, which is a mystery, its center of attention is the murder, in 1976, of Madge Ashbrook, rather wealthy old woman who is herself convinced that England is being ruined by Marxists.

The England that Snow portrays in A Coat of Varnish is in deep trouble, with its unemployment rate soaring and its pound declining daily on the stock exchange. The novel is set in a largely upper-middle-class quarter of London, where - Snow strongly implies - dangerous forces are hiding just beneath a surface that appears settled and safe. Early in the book Humphrey Leigh - the book's principal character - learns that Lady Ashbrook, his neighbour and friend, has been savagely beaten to death in her own home with the hammer.

Leigh is able to follow closely the official investigation of that murder with the help of a Scotland Yard detective assigned to head up the case. The detective gradually narrows down the field of suspects to several of Lady Ashbrook's acquaintances and supposed friends. But he finds it difficult to secure the arrest of the figure he knows committed the crime. A Coat of Varnish does not offer the sort of climactic ending that one generally finds in murder mysteries. It is, however, a tightly structured work that features believable characters, solid subplots, and particularly vivid descriptions of environment in 1976.

The book's central themes are directly stated. That is the anxiety about the state of the nation, or its economy, or, deeper down, about the state of the Western world. One of the novel’s characters admits that "people who live in a nice pretty cushioned world" are prone to forget the fact that "civilisation is hideously fragile." "There's not much," he notes, "between us and the horrors underneath. Just a coat of varnish, wouldn't you say?" “And,” he continues, “there's not much between us and our beastly selves. Human beings aren't nice, are they?”

The Scotland Yard detective also broods about the barbarism he must witness daily while on the job. He admits that the answer to the problem of barbarism and chaos is, quite simply, sanctions. And most of these - including the “fear of judgment and the after life” and the "fear of what other people think" - have largely disappeared. Today, “it's mostly fear of the law” that barely maintains order; “without the law, there wouldn't be much left in the way of moral rules. I wish I believed something else, but nowadays I can't”.

In the New York Times Book Review it was pointed out that Snow had always revealed “an informed interest, rare in a novelist, in how a bureaucracy--in this case the London police--sets about organizing its work”. “The detectives' planning sessions in what is called the Murder Room and the long sessions of interrogation of the chief suspect” were considered “the best things in the book.”

Snow died on 1 July 1980. Though he remained active in public affairs throughout the final decades of his life (serving as Harold Wilson's technology minister in the 1960s, for example), Snow continued to devote most of his energy to writing essays and novels, including In Their Wisdom (1974), which also warns of the dangers of assuming a “false optimism about human beings” and which many of Snow's admirers consider one of his finest efforts. One of those admirers admits, for example, that when Snow's writing is bad, “it is horrid. It can sound uninspired and monotonous and it can fall into bathos”. But as she also points out, Snow at his best utilizes a “deliberately plain” prose style “which has its own austere appeal”; he reveals not only “an excellent ear for contemporary idiom” but the ability to address important questions regarding human nature even as he constructs a convincing, suspenseful story.

Source: Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 77: British Mystery Writers, 1920-1939. Edited by Bernard Benstock and Thomas F. Staley. The Gale Group, 1989.