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Caroline Gordon: Aleck Maury, Sportsman

Aleck Maury is not a sportsman. He takes pleasure in killing animals. For some reason, this is called sport. Gordon’s original title for the book was The Life and Passion of Aleck Maury. To be passionate about killing seems even more revolting than calling it sport.

The novel is based on the life of Gordon’s father whose passion, apparently, was killing animals. It recounts the life of Aleck Maury who, apart from a few minor incidents (career, marriage, children, death of child, death of wife), devotes his whole life to fishing (mainly) and hunting. This is, of course, a long tradition in literature. A passion for killing animals can be found in English writers from Izaak Walton to Henry Williamson and John Buchan and many others literatures have celebrated it.

Maury seems a decent enough sort of person but his obsession with killing animals is pretty well all that informs this book. If you are not interested in the code of good manners in killing foxes or how to catch bream or bass, you will find this book as boring as I did.

Publishing history

First published 1934 by Charles Scribner’s Sons