An eminently poetic book, Langrishe, Go Down (Higgins’s first novel) traces the fall of the Langrishes—a once wealthy, highly respected Irish family—through the lives of their four daughters, especially the youngest, Imogen, whose love affair with a self-centered German scholar resonates throughout the book. Their relationship, told in lush, erotic, and occasionally melancholic prose, comes to represent not only the invasion and decline of this insular family, but the decline of Ireland and Western Europe as a whole in the years preceding World War II.
In the tradition of great Irish writing, Higgins’s prose is a direct descendent from that of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, and nowhere else is his mastery of the language as evident as in Langrishe, Go Down, which the Irish Times applauded as “the best Irish novel since At Swim-Two-Birds and the novels of Beckett.”
Langrishe, Go Down, considered by many to be Aidan Higgins’s most accomplished novel, received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize when it was first published in 1966. It was later filmed for television with a screenplay written by Harold Pinter. This BBC adaptation, starring Jeremy Irons and Judi Dench and originally produced in 1978, recently made its belated theatrical debut at New York’s Film Forum and has been screened in major cities throughout the U.S.