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Go-Between, The

marian leo burgess ted

a novel by L. P. Hartley, published in 1953. Leo, now aged 60-plus, recalls the events of a childhood summer half a century earlier: invited to Brandham Hall in Norfolk, the country home of his schoolfriend Marcus Maudsley, he rapidly falls under the spell of Marcus's beautiful older sister Marian. He becomes the innocent courier of secret letters between Marian and local farmer Ted Burgess, only gradually realizing that he is the go-between in a clandestine love affair. Leo's developing respect for Marian's fiancé Lord Trimingham forces him to a moral crisis. He refuses to carry any more letters, but changes his mind when Marian accuses him of ingratitude. Later, on his thirteenth birthday, Marian's mother discovers Leo taking a letter. He refuses either to surrender it or to explain Marian's absence for the rest of the day, until Mrs Maudsley insists he accompany her on a search for her daughter: the conclusion of this is the discovery of Marian and Burgess making love in an outhouse. Later Ted Burgess commits suicide. The novel is a brilliant evocation of a social world and historical period. Richly complex, its theme is the individual's search for identity, and the relationship of childhood experience to adult problems. The narrative is framed by a prologue, in which the narrator confronts the challenge of the past's failed hopes and opportunities, and an epilogue in which he revisits Marian and agrees to go on one last errand—to her grandson, to give him his own version of the story—and thereby begins to resolve his personal emotional legacy of the past. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay for Joseph Losey's film of 1970.

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