chapter  43
3 Pages

L. A. G. Strong (Leonard Alfred George), the Last Enemy: A Study of Youth

Divided into three segments, The Last Enemy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1936) is a study of a young Englishman, Denis Boyle, from the age of twenty through approximately twenty-five. The first part deals with his leaving Oxford because of World War I in order to take up a teaching position at a preparatory school, and his return to Oxford to appear before a medical board to confirm he is unfit for military service. That one day in Oxford influences his thinking as he realizes how a class-ridden society discriminates against the uneducated and the weak. The third part of the novel has Boyle falling in love with the wife of one of the other masters at the school and his death in a motoring accident as he travels for a meeting with her that will consummate their relationship. The transfer of Boyle’s spirit from one life to the next is movingly described, and one can well understand why critic Dayton Kohler once described Irish-born poet and novelist L. A. G. Strong as possessing “the poetic romanticism of the Gael.” The novel’s final chapters reveal the reasoning behind the title, taken from 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”