Charles Percy Snow – The Search

Last modified: February 9, 2018

A penetrating epic from the 1930s. Fascinated by science since childhood, the main character grows up to become a promising researcher. He puts his career before the love of his life. Nevertheless, a highly prestigious job slips out of his grasp when it is discovered that, in his haste to reveal his findings, he has unintentionally made a painful error. Disillusioned despite being entirely rehabilitated, he withdraws from science. When his great love’s far less talented husband secures a fantastic job thanks to deliberate falsification of data, he decides not to reveal the fraud.

Although written more than eighty years ago, this story still resonates with its depiction of the pressure to perform and the uncertainties scientists face in their professional and personal lives. Science is a profession practised by ordinary people striving for success, recognition, social status and a good income. But in a hard world in which only results count, the temptation to cut corners can be all too great. The protagonist’s doubts and anxieties will be depressingly familiar to many academics.

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