Synopses & Reviews
It would be inconceivable for an American author to write a coming-of-age novel in a comedic vein without reckoning with J.D. Salinger's A Catcher in the Rye; and it would be equally impossible to explore the genre in a tragic vein without taking account of John Knowles's A Separate Peace. In a way comparable perhaps only to The Lord of the Flies in England, A Separate Peace looms over the American literary imagination as both beacon and sentinel, enticing as many emulators by its extraordinary success as it discourages by the sheer magnificence of John Knowles's accomplishment. Season after season, coming-of-age novels are still published, as they will always be, but succeeding generations discover for themselves why A Separate Peace brooks no competitors. Set among a group of boys at a New England boarding school during World War II, it shines a light into the highest heights of beauty and the most profound depths of evil that young men are capable of reaching. At once harrowing and luminous, brooding and bittersweet, A Separate Peace has captured as if in amber the experience of adolescence for millions of readers over four decades. It is John Knowles's crowning achievement, and an undisputed American classic.
"I think it is the best-written, best-designed and most moving novel I have read in many years. Beginning with a tiny incident among ordinary boys, it ends by being as deep and as big as evil itself." Aubrey Menen
"John Knowles' engrossing tale of love, hate, war, and peace....Intense, mesmerizing, and compelling..." School Library Journal
"A quietly vital and cleanly written novel that moves, page by page, towards a most interesting target." Truman Capote
"Is he the successor to Salinger for whom we have been waiting so long? Encounter
"A masterpiece." National Review
Gene was a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas was a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happened between them at school one summer during the early years of World War II is the subject of A Separate Peace. A bestseller for over twenty years, it is a starkly moving parable of the dark forces that brood over the tortured world of adolescence.
An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace
is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles’s crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.
About the Author
John Knowles, who died in 2001, was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, as well as a recipient of the William Faulkner Award and the Rosenthal Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.