Robert Briffault packed Europa with wise and witty sentences. Unfortunately, he neglected to include a plot in the novel.
What story there is concerns Julian Bern, a deep thinker.
Europa: The Days of Ignorance by Robert Briffault
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1935. 510 pages. 1935 bestseller #10. My grade: C-.
Julian has a wide range of acquaintances who do not think as deeply as he, but who have far more extensive knowledge of sex in all its perversions.
In his late teens, Julian acquires a girl friend. Zena’s parents rush her into an arranged marriage with a Russian homosexual lest she be tainted by Julian’s middle class values.
A decade later, Julian and Zena link up again just as Europe plunges into World War I.
Most of the novel consists of party gossip about who is sleeping with whom, but the tittle-tattle lets Briffault get in some good lines. For example, Julian’s aunt complains to her brother,
Julian reads far too much, and I’m afraid it puts ideas into his head.
The theme of the novel appears to be that education prevents people from perceiving ideas.
Perhaps it does.
At any rate, my education prevents me from perceiving any value in this novel.
© 2015 by Linda Gorton Aragoni