A Game with Sharpened Knives
On a single sheet of notepaper, neat handwriting formed a fragment of English: The right twigs for an eagle’s nest. Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin. Yes or No.
In 1938, an Austrian physicist was saved from disgrace and danger by a revolutionary whose sentence of execution had been commuted more than twenty years earlier. The physicist was Erwin Schrodinger, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1933, who had been forced to flee after the Nazis entered Austria. The revolutionary was the Irish leader Eamon de Valera. These are the extraordinary facts behind this extraordinary fiction.
In 1941, murder is in the air, and on the sea beyond the mouth of the river Liffey. German bombs are dropping, accidentally it is alleged, on Dublin. Ireland is a country not truly in peace, either with Germany, or with its neighbour across the Irish Sea, or indeed with itself. Erwin Schrodinger, cosmopolitan intellectual and emotional enigma, is living in cramped exile in the village of Clontarf on the outskirts of Dublin, with his wife, his lover and their child. In Neil Belton’s novel, the author of a beautiful equation cannot impose order on his own life, and he is haunted by his past and by mysterious threats in the present.
A GAME WITH SHARPENED KNIVES is the story of a man foundering on his own desires and fears, a man who often finds it easier to say nothing, for nothing in the tense and isolated city of Dublin is quite what it appears. And the future, in this terrible year, still seems too close for comfort.