EDMUND MARLOWE'S ALEXANDER’S CHOICE REVIEWED BY JOHN MACKAY
Alexander’s Choice, a love story set at England’s most famous boarding-school, Eton College and written by old boy Edmund Marlowe, was published on 12 December 2012. The following review of it by John Mackay of Stuttgart, Germany was published on Amazon.com on 29 August 2013.
There is Nothing more Frightful than Ignorance in Action *****
Wow! What a read. It is not often I sit for a half hour at the end of a novel contemplating what I just read. The story set in the early 1980s is the love between a 14yo Alexander, an Eton School boy and his young English Master Damian. The story is compelling and haunting. First time novelist Edmund Marlowe does a great job of developing the story and putting it into context with the ancient Greek civilizations who first inspired and wrote about the nobility of pederasty or "Greek Love". The gamut of human emotions is played out in this movingly brilliant first novel. It is probably not too much of a plot spoiler to say the book ends very tragically for the two protagonists. I must say one of my small criticisms of the novel is the ending is probably overdone. Nonetheless the end of the book; from the perspective of the social workers, the child abuse industry juggernaut, police and the ignorant public, this would be the desired, and as should be expected, outcome of such a misguided love affair. The mere discussion of the possibility these days is almost always met with hysterics, red flares and threats.
But what I hope Marlowe intended with his work and its tragic ending is to attempt to provoke people into thinking about ways of dialoguing and engaging those who at least will listen to the notion that Greek Love does also have a place in our modern society. Starting with the margins and elements of society that are willing to consider alternatives to the sorry state we are in today regarding feelings toward the issue of Pederasty, and then working toward the core where someday (probably not in this lifetime), society might be able to realize that this is not a black and white issue. As with all things in life, gray is reality, black and white is not... The novel proves there is a way to bring people's attention to the fact that there are nuances to the idea of Greek Love. One must acknowledge that genuine unwanted sexual abuse of teenage boys does indeed happen. However in most cases, affairs of this type are just the opposite. As the novel illustrates, these affairs can have quite positive benefits for the boy who is truly motivated by his older friend to achieve, perform and please at far higher levels than he would have attained had he not had the support of an understanding, "inspiring" lover. While Greek Love affairs do not have to involve sex, they often do as the relationship between the boy and man grows and builds toward the sexual tension that seeks release in affection and love. This is so carefully and accurately captured from the standpoints of both Alexander and Master Damian in Marlowe's novel. The other secondary characters play their parts in this drama as well, particularly Julian, the love struck older boy whose crush on Alexander and subsequent jealousy is so well described. I certainly hope this is not the last we have heard from Edmund Marlowe on the theme of Greek Love; his is a valuable voice on this topic and deserves to be heard.
The most heinous crime one can commit these days is to have a sexual relationship between a teenage boy and a man. Murder would be viewed more sympathetically... Each new salacious revelation of a case is brought out to a breathless public that simply can't get enough until the perpetrator is marched off to prison to rot for the rest of his life. It is the 20th, and now 21st's centuries current witch hunt. Somehow those 16th and 17th Century witch hunts were eventually brought under control, and this issue needs to be addressed as well. But until it effectively is, the German philosopher poet Goethe said it best; "Nothing is more Frightful than Ignorance in Action".