Whispers of conspiracy obsessively echo through our era. We are entangled in the kingdom of lies behind lies. Politicians rant of the New World Order,...moreWhispers of conspiracy obsessively echo through our era. We are entangled in the kingdom of lies behind lies. Politicians rant of the New World Order, authors write Da Vinci Codes and Golden Compasses, mass-market video gaming produces the likes of Assassin's Creed. Conspiracies inhabit our mind.
But among all the conspiracies, if that is even the real word for this remarkable book, this one stands as a stained glass mural among shattered pots and pans.
When platonic archetypes begin to invade London and the heavenly world intrudes on our own, the small number of people who know (if they could be said to really know) what is happening react in varying ways. Some attempt to control these rabid Ideas while others run and hide. One ignores their existence and another vows to stop their impending rule.
There is, I believe, a true conspiracy in our midst. I think that Charles Williams knew of it and tried to tell about it. But the conspiracy is not one hidden in Templar tunnels, Masonic temples or Vatican basements. Instead the conspiracy contrived against the world is found in the heart and mind of every man or woman walking the earth. These Ideas, these spiritual archangels, that Williams describes were meant to be ruled by Man and Man has failed to take charge. By now he is even thoroughly unable to do so.
The plot against Man is outlined: God made Man in His image, the Imago Dei, to rule the planet he was placed on. But Man fell, and he took everything under him down with him. When Adam died, all died, and "the creation groaneth." The Ideas of the universe had been meant to be ruled by mankind and now they rebel against him. Man's poor position is one of his own making and maintaining, while at the same time he is in constant danger of strange assassination from the Powers meant to be his loyal subjects. This conspiracy is one in which the conspirators and victims are identical.
Suffice to say that in the end Man attains his proper place, if only for a moment. But Williams looks ahead to the moment when once, for all time, Man will attain his place among the created beings, the animal above the animals, the lamb in the place of the lion.
The prose is complex and vibrant. It jumped off the page and pulled my eyeballs down to focus. The tempters a...more**spoiler alert** This play is brilliant.
The prose is complex and vibrant. It jumped off the page and pulled my eyeballs down to focus. The tempters are a genius part of the plot (what am I saying, the plot itself is genius), and the fourth was my absolute favorite. I have two or three favorite lines. The first I come across is when the third tempter arrives and says, "I am an unexpected guest." The archbishop's reply? "I expected you." The line buried a pit in my stomach and stopped me flat in my tracks. I digested and moved on to see Thomas declare, "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
The main character, though based in fact, is masterfully constructed. There is never a moment when I doubt both that Thomas will die and die willingly. The only worry I had, to tell the truth, was whether he would die for the right reasons. Having come to the end and seen Thomas's bravado before the murderous knights in his own cathedral, I rest assured that he stands among the innumerable saints of God.
This book could be disturbing, or brilliant, or trash.
The book is short at just 107 pages (Penguin edition). Steinbeck's writing style is very good bu...moreThis book could be disturbing, or brilliant, or trash.
The book is short at just 107 pages (Penguin edition). Steinbeck's writing style is very good but occasionally redundant: "He embraced his knees and laid his chin down on his knees." The dialogue was immensely frustrating whenever the same thing was said repeatedly with no point. You have pages of "We're gonna' buy us a farm, and tend the rabbits," and it isn't just between Lennie and George. That wouldn't be a problem if the conversations varied. (The one place this practice was spectacular was at the end of the book, to which it is vital. But it has been done better.)
The characters themselves often seemed to mindlessly bounce off of each other. It's as if there was no intelligence during the Great Depression. Whatever the case it was easier to find rabbits than wit, and there isn't much reason for it. Absolutely everybody is some kind of idiot.
Though very short, I wanted to throw it across the room by page 90. This shows a bit of failure and a bit of success on Steinbeck's part: failure in that he frustrated me outside the story, success in that he convinced me to care enough to be frustrated. Bravo, it's a good thing. If only it didn't have those fault-lines! The ground is beautiful but I won't for a moment dance upon it. I know it isn't safe.
The climax seems too forced. We know from the beginning that Lennie is going to 'do a bad thing,' but the way it happens is far-fetched in my mind. It's impossible to digress without spoiling the story, so I won't say anything more.
The plot itself is good, and the writing is good. The themes and the message are brutal, but outstanding.(less)