Serpent

Nicholas Mosley, Author
Nicholas Mosley, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-916583-49-1
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Jason, the protagonist of this muddled novel of ideas, is a scriptwriter doing a movie about Masada, the desert fortress where, according to the account of the Jewish historian Josephus, Jewish rebels in 73 A.D. committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. The action takes place on a plane taking a group of film people to Israel. En route we learn that the point of Jason's filmscript is that the concept of heroic resistance symbolized by Masada is misguided; Josephus, who decided not to join his brethren and instead capitulated to the Romans, earns Jason's approval as one who chose life over death. Counterpointing Jason's ruminations about the script is the behavior of his wife, who becomes intimately involved with a passenger who may be a hijacker. The story is meant to dramatize the clash between public and private selves, an overarching theme of Mosley's five-novel series, Catastrophe Practice (of which this is the third volume). Events on the plane are supposed to parallel the episode at Masada, but the analogies are strained. This is a revision of a novel originally published in England in 1981. (Jan.)
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