Saturday, 13 January 2001

T.S. Eliot: The Family Reunion (1939)

Edition: Faber & Faber, 1969 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 714

I found it a little difficult to understand exactly what The Family Reunion is about; it would probably be a lot easier to do so seeing it in the theatre. Clearly, there is a secret at the centre of the relationships of the Piper family, brought together at the ancestral home for the first time in several years. It is equally clear that hatred is the principal emotion that most of the family feel for each other, and it becomes clear that the power in the family lies not with apparently dominant mother Amy but with her sister Agatha.

That the secret is some kind of crime against family is shown by the presence of the Eumenides, traditional pursuers and tormentors of such criminals in Greek myth. They are silent, which is rather different from their usual portrayal as vociferous accusers.

Apart from being in verse, The Family Reunion reads as though it were one of the Ibsen plays about family and inherited taints - Ghosts, for example. It is rather less gripping to read and much more difficult to work out what it is about, however.

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