On the Lookout: A Partial Autobiography
From Whitehall to a sergeants' mess in India, commuter Sevenoaks to Hitler's Berlin, pre-war Paris to working-class Bristol: this is the partial autobiography of C.H.Sisson. 'On the Lookout', concentrating on Sisson's first half-century, will surprise the readers of his poems and essays both by its candour and reticence. it is the story of a poet's exposure to the history of our time as student, soldier, civil servant, novelist, critic and translator, and the development of his dissident English perspectives. It casts new light on the literary history of the 1930s and the 1960s, when Sisson was part of the X group. He gave up writing poetry at the age of 20, and started again on a troopship at the age of 28. 'On the Lookout' reveals a man pursued by rather than pursuing poetry. In the first of the book's four parts (written in 1964) Sisson is Under Secretary ay the Ministry of Labour. Reversing chronology, he follows himself back to the War. part two, written immediately after the war, gives a vivid picture of India seen through the yes of one of the British Other Ranks. The third part resumes the reverse narrative, tracing Sisson back from London to Paris and Nazi Germany, undergraduate days at Bristol, childhood and birth in 1941 in what has since become the Bristol Rover's Supporter's Club. The book ends with a 'Letter from the Present'.