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Lanark

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This work, originally published in 1981, has been hailed as the most influential Scottish novel of the second half of the 20th century. Its playful narrative techniques convey a profound message, personal and political, about humankind's inability to love and yet our compulsion to go on trying.

560 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1981

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About the author

Alasdair Gray

89 books433 followers
Alasdair James Gray was a Scottish writer and artist. His first novel, Lanark (1981), is seen as a landmark of Scottish fiction. He published novels, short stories, plays, poetry and translations, and wrote on politics and the history of English and Scots literature. His works of fiction combine realism, fantasy, and science fiction with the use of his own typography and illustrations, and won several awards.

He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1952 to 1957. As well as his book illustrations, he painted portraits and murals. His artwork has been widely exhibited and is in several important collections. Before Lanark, he had plays performed on radio and TV.

His writing style is postmodern and has been compared with those of Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. It often contains extensive footnotes explaining the works that influenced it. His books inspired many younger Scottish writers, including Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner, A.L. Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Chris Kelso and Iain Banks. He was writer-in-residence at the University of Glasgow from 1977 to 1979, and professor of Creative Writing at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities from 2001 to 2003.

Gray was a civic nationalist and a republican, and wrote supporting socialism and Scottish independence. He popularised the epigram "Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation" (taken from a poem by Canadian poet Dennis Leigh) which was engraved in the Canongate Wall of the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh when it opened in 2004. He lived almost all his life in Glasgow, married twice, and had one son. On his death The Guardian referred to him as "the father figure of the renaissance in Scottish literature and art".

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 588 reviews
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,468 reviews3,645 followers
January 9, 2023
Heaven and hell… Tunnels and corridors… Labyrinths and hospital wards…
“In my travels, as I walked through many regions and countries, it was my chance to happen into that famous continent of Universe. A very large and spacious continent it is; it lieth between the heavens. It is a place well watered, and richly adorned with hills and valleys, bravely situate, and for the most part, at least where I was, very fruitful, also well peopled, and a very sweet air.”

Chaos and anarchy… Revolutions and counterrevolutions… Dystopias and utopias rolled into one…
“Believe me, this splendid logicalness has been achieved only just in time! More men have been born this century than in all the ages of history and prehistory preceding. Our man surplus has never been so vast. If this human wealth is not governed it will collapse – in places it is already collapsing – Into poverty, anarchy, disaster. Let me say at once that I do not fear wars between any government represented here today, nor do I fear revolution. The presence of that great revolutionary hero, Chairman Fu of the People’s Republic of Xanadu, shows that revolutions are perfectly able to create strong governments. What we must unite to prevent are half-baked revolts which might give desperadoes access to those doomsday machines and bottled plagues which stable governments are creating, not to use, but to prevent themselves from being bullied by equals.”

Is madness a parallel universe?
“But now the fantasies were imbecile frivolity, and poetry was whistling in the dark, and novels showed life fighting its own agony, and biographies were accounts of struggles toward violent or senile ends, and history was an infinitely diseased worm without head or tail, beginning or end.”

When the mind loses its way in reality it tries to hide in madness.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
June 24, 2020
Alien Life-forms

Lanark, on the face of it, is a complex fantasy of a sort of Glaswegian student-Bohemia experienced by the eponymous hero (alias Thaw). There are intriguing allusions and dense metaphysical comments on almost every page. I don’t think it is prudent, or even possible, to summarize its narrative or its meaning. But a key to both might be found in what I think is its philosophical, and therefore essentially literary, context.

According to some, the most serious impediment to explaining the world isn’t the absence of a unified physical theory or the inadequacy of human language. It is the presence of what can only be called a pervasive evil. Evil is an irrationality, an inherent contradiction, which clearly exists - in nature everywhere and especially in people - but which defies explanation. Yet consciousness demands one. How can such an absurd universe produce beings who question its very absurdity?

This is the premise and issue of an ancient style of thinking called Gnosticism, the essential presumption of which is that we thinking, reflective beings actually don’t belong here. We have been exiled from elsewhere and are condemned to wander aimlessly in this universe of hopelessness, pain, disease, death, and... well evil until we are rescued from it and returned to whence we came. This view is expressed in too many diverse ways to be called a philosophy; but it does have an historical continuity that reflects its intellectual and emotional power.

Christianity, and consequently Christian culture, is tinged with gnostic influences from its inception; but has always rejected the gnostic mode of thinking as unbiblical in its presumption of the essential evil of the world we inhabit. Christianity does, however, maintain somewhat paradoxically the idea that there is a ‘better place’ which is our true home. This it calls Paradise, a realm close to God with no pain, no disease, and no death; that is a place without evil.

Gnosticism has been suppressed by Christianity (and also by Islam) as a heresy. But it reappears frequently in European history in various forms - usually among those who take the problem of evil seriously. The early Desert Fathers and strange stylites, sitters on poles, and other ‘martyrs to the flesh’ are examples; as are the medieval Cathars and Bogomils and their spiritual heirs, the strict Calvinists, and the even more enthusiastic adherents of the Republican Party in the United States. Each of these groups has their own version of a spiritual theory of the world in which escape from the tribulations of living is not only possible but constitutes the real goal of living at all.

The historical originators of Gnosticism were the Manichaeans, Persian followers of the sage Mani, who developed a rather elaborate, and empirically based, theory of human existence. Look up in the night sky, they said, and you will see clearly that there is another world beyond that enclosed by the solid vault of heaven. Those points of light we call stars are actually holes, imperfections, in that vault, the casing of our world, through which we can see bits of the world beyond. That is the realm of light whence we came and to which we are meant, according to cosmic logic, to return. The real mission and spiritual duty of all human beings is to seek the knowledge by which such a home-going can be achieved.

As proof that such a re-unification with the domain of light is possible, the Manichaeans again pointed to the night sky. In addition to the fixed points of light there were several wandering objects called planets. The function of these objects is to patrol our world on the lookout for the sparks of light, that is to say human souls, which have managed to detach themselves through secret knowledge from the evil bonds of the Earth. These sparks are scooped up by the roving planets as the sparks emerge from their earthly prison.

And as further proof, if proof were necessary, the planets then deposit their luminous cargo periodically onto that other celestial body we call the Moon. Thus the monthly waxing of the Moon as these sparks are added to it. And also the monthly discharge of these from the Moon, its waning, through the vault of heaven as they are merged with the infinite light beyond.

As far as spiritual theories of the world go this is relatively plausible. Little wonder then that its principle tropes - Light and Freedom - appear periodically in European literature. Lanark is an example. Its characters are obsessed with light, either finding it or avoiding it. Lanark‘s goal is to escape from the realm of artificial light into that of pure ‘heavenly’ light.

Others, Lanark observes, have obviously succeeded; they have “disappeared when the lights go out.” This is a risky business. On the one hand, “the only cure for these—personal—diseases is sunlight.” On the other hand, “When people leave without a companion their diseases return after a while.” So the problem of reunification is not just cosmic as the Manichaeans thought; it is also personal and involves relationships with others. We’re in it together. Therefore Lanark’s plan is simple:
“‘I’m leaving when I find a suitable companion.’
‘Why?’
‘I want the sun.’”


Of course the extended metaphor of Lanark communicates the secret gnostic knowledge of the light, but such knowledge is in itself insufficient: “Metaphor is one of thought’s most essential tools. It illuminates what would otherwise be totally obscure. But the illumination is sometimes so bright that it dazzles instead of revealing,” as one of the characters points out. Lanark knows that what’s necessary above all is a very specific sort of courage: “‘Admit!’ he told himself, ‘You watched the sky because you were too cowardly to know people.’”

I doubt anything can explain Lanark satisfactorily except Lanark. But I do think its gnostic pedigree might add something significant to the comprehensibility of its otherwise alien life-forms.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,219 reviews9,929 followers
February 10, 2011
Some novels are like the Cheshire Cat, the only thing left of them is their smile. Can't remember much about this big, crazy book but I do remember it was big, and crazy, and about Glasgow, and not-Glasgow, which was called Unthank. I thought it was brilliant, but I can't tell you why now. Everything has faded except that sometimes i look up and there's its smile in the air.
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
412 reviews2,219 followers
March 9, 2020
Posted at Heradas.com

“I wish I could make you like death a little more. It’s a great preserver. Without it the loveliest things change slowly into farce, as you will discover if you insist on having much more life.”



Lanark is one of those huge, pain-in-the-ass, crufty novels that I just wasn’t going to be able to avoid much longer. I find that I particularly enjoy Scottish literature, for whatever reason, and I plan on reading Iain Banks’ The Bridge fairly soon, which was largely influenced by Lanark. It was inevitable that I’d need to check this one off my list sooner rather than later.

“I was absolutely knocked out by Lanark.” Banks mentioned, in conversation with Andrew Wilson. “I think it’s the best in Scottish literature this century. It opened my eyes. I had forgotten what you could do – you can be self-referential, you can muck about with different voices, characters, time-streams, whatever. Lanark had a huge effect on The Bridge. I’m quite happy to acknowledge that debt.”

In Rodge Glass’s biography of Alasdair Gray, Irvine Welsh remarked that Lanark is: “probably the closest thing Scotland’s ever produced to Ulysses. What it said to me was, it would be fucking great to be a writer.”

According to the tailpiece present in Canondale’s The Canons edition: “How Lanark Grew” Lanark is both largely autobiographical—a fact made more interesting by the book’s fantastical nature—and was written over the course of thirty years. Alasdair Gray’s early masterpiece definitely has some flaws—weak secondary characters, poorly written female characters—but is such a wild ride that I didn’t mind them too much.

“You pessimists always fall into the disillusion trap,” said the cheerful man cheerfully. “From one distance a thing looks bright. From another it looks dark. You think you’ve found the truth when you’ve replaced the cheerful view by the opposite, but true profundity blends all possible views, bright as well as dark.”

The book staunchly refuses to comply with the usual rules of genre and structure. It begins with Book Three, set in the fantastical city of Unthank, followed by a nicely nested modernist coming of age story-within-a-story: Prologue, Book One, Interlude, and Book Two. We then continue on in the world of Unthank with: Book Four, followed by an Epilogue, and then strangely… four additional chapters. What an unorthodox structure. The chapter Index itself even plays a narrative role, as do the section titles present on the top of each page.

The Epilogue is where the book really shines in my opinion, and where all of the threads come together. I can’t say much about it, but I will mention two things: It’s much more playful than the rest of the novel, and it contains an annotated list of plagiarisms present in Lanark, which is just… an incredible idea. I have to applaud Gray for this inclusion. It’s wonderful, and remarkably helpful for unpacking the themes and influences present in this bizarre narrative.

“It is a dangerous thing to suddenly deprive a man of hope—he can turn violent. It is important to kill hope slowly, so that the loser has time to adjust unconsciously to the loss. We try to keep hope alive till it has burned out the vitality feeding it. Only then is the man allowed to face the truth.”

I could’ve actually done without the four chapters that succeeded the Epilogue. I found them mostly pointless, and the Epilogue itself has a sort of choose your own ending option baked in that I think would’ve worked remarkably well as an ending itself.

All in all, Lanark is for all of you that prefer your fiction to contain heavy doses of both self-referential, weird as hell fantasy, and depressingly bleak modernist realism, all of which is coated with vaguely Marxist under and overtones, as well as fascinating social and philosophical commentary on free will, art, and what constitutes a satisfying life.
Profile Image for Gorkem.
144 reviews97 followers
July 7, 2018
Girizgah:

Lanark, hem okunabilirlik açısından hem de yazımsal olarak bakıldığında okuru ciddi olarak farklı duyguları ( sıkılma, sevinme, üzülme, heyecanlanma, sabırsızlık, estetik) tam olarak yaşatabilen tarif edilmesi zor kitap.

Alasdair Gray'in 20 yıllık çalışması olan Lanark 4-5 farklı yazımsal türü içinde bulunduran okuduğum en zekice kitaplardan biriydi. Yazar, bilimkurgu ve fantastik öğeleri, bildungsroman ve kahraman mitleri doğrultusunda harmanlayıp; aynı zamanda yapmış olduğu intihaller ile tarihten o döneme kadar yazılmış tüm edebiyatın tarihinin bir nevi özetini sunan Gray (bkn: Hatime sf: 523) tragedya, insanlığın varoluş sorunları, cennet-cehennem tanrı-yaratıcı-yaratılan temaları doğrultusunda oluşturulmuş çok katmanlı bir kitap.

Çok sert bir şekilde kapitalizm eleştirisi yapan Lanark, bilimkurgu ve fantastik romana ait gerçeküstücülüğü, diğer edebi türleri içinde yer alan gerçeklik temasıyla birlikte kullanan aynı zamanda bir distopya örneği.

Kitabın atmosferi bazı okurlar tarafından çok kara ve simsiyah bulunması ve bu karamsarlık tonlarının okuru sıkabileceği eleştirisi yapılsa da açıkcası bu fikre hiç sahip olmadan kitabı okuduğumu belirtmeliyim. Gray'in ressam olması ve diğer güzel sanatlarla olan ilişkisini müthiş betimlemeler ile sunması ve bana Tim Parks'ın Kader'i tematik olarak neye dayandırılarak oluştuğunu bahsettiği "The Pleasures of Pessimism" makalesinden dolayı, tam tersi bir keyif yaşatarak kitabı keyifle okumama neden oldu. Fakat bu demek değildir ki kitap, üzgün, kara ve simsiyah değil.

Konu:

Lanark, Alasdair Gray'in şehir ve kahraman ve yaratıcı üçlemesini doğmuş olduğu Glasgow üstünden anlatan ve konu olarak Thaw ve Lanark adlı aynı olan iki kişinin hayatını, iki farklı zamansal gerçeklik içinde anlatan bir kitap. Lanark, güneş ışıklarının olmadığı bir yerde( ya da güneş ışığının çok az göründüğü bir zamanda), ejderha derisi hastalığına yakalanmış ve sonrasında insanların kendilerine yemek-tedavi imkanı sunan enstitü denen yerde başlayan ve biten öyküsünü anlatırken, Thaw 1950'lerde Glasgow'da II. Dünya Savaşı'ndan sonraki süreci anlatan, genç bir ressamın hayatını anlatıyor. Linear olarak başlamayan kitap, 4 kitaptan 3.süyle başlayıp okuru labirentler içinde ve değişen anlatıcılar ile karşı karşıya bırakıyor. Bu durumda, kitabın geleneksel ve yenilikçi türleri çok başarılı şekilde içinde barındırmasına ve okuyuca alışıldık olmadığı süreçlerin içine dahil eden bir okuma deneyimi sunuyor.

Sonuç:

Lanark, alışılmış olmayan (dönemine göre ve bence hala şu an da geçerli) farklı edebi perspektiflerin bir araya getirildiği ve kahraman- yaratıcı temasını bilimkurgu, büyüsel gerçekcilik ile harmanlandığı, ya da diğer bir deyişle Gray'in bilimkurgu ve fantazi edebiyatı bir aracı olarak kullandığı müthiş bir postmodern eser.

Kitabın, linear bir anlatım sunmaması ve bazı okurlarca alışık olduğumuz fantazi ve bilimkurgu edebiyatında yer alacak öğeleri ve konu örtüsünü tam olarak barındırmamasından dolayı kitabın beğenilmemesine ve belki de aşırı derecede uzatılmış olabileceği gerçeğini göz ardı etmiyor. Bunun yanında kitabın yavaş yavaş açılması sabır gerektiren bir diğer durum.

Benim açımdan ise, Lanark'ı fikir olarak ve Gray'in selam çaktığı birçok yazar ve eser doğrultusunda değerlendirdiğimde elimden bırakmak istemediğim bir kitap oldu. Gray'in her bölümü ustalıkla sonlandırması, yapmış olduğu betimlemeler- ki beni kendimden aldı-estetik anlamda cidden tatmin etti.

Gray'in entellektuel birikimi, Lanark ve Thaw ikilisinde kendisini birçok farkl�� şekilde okura göstermesi ve mizah anlayışı kendisine hayran bıraktı. Özellikle kapitalizm ve entellektüeller üzerine getirmiş olduğu eleştiriler, kitabın tartışılması ve sunduğu çok katmanlılık açısından da kitabı son derece değerli kıldı.

Özetle, farklı ve eğlenceli bir okuma deneyimi için harika bir kitap. Okura birçok farklı duyguyu bir arada sunabilen zekice bir kitap. Bu özet uzar gider!

İyi okumalar dilerim.

10/8
Profile Image for Warwick.
845 reviews14.6k followers
December 21, 2012
I wanted very much to love this book, which was probably my first mistake. I had heard a lot of extremely complimentary things about how it was the most unusual, eccentric and meaningful novel various people had read for ages, and I probably came to it with rather exaggerated hopes. Anyway, it's good, but it's also flawed, as to be fair the author himself admits in a rather interesting confessional Epilogue.

The first thing you notice when you open it up and check out the Contents page is that it is structured in a weird way. First comes Book 3, then the Introduction, then Books 1 and 2, and finally Book 4. The Epilogue I mentioned comes a few chapters before the end of the book, because it's ‘far too important to leave to the end’ (paraphrasing from memory). So straight away you know you're dealing with a writer who's kind of pretentious, and the only question really is if it's justified by artistic effect or if it's just a gimmick. On balance it just about worked for me, but it was a close call.

There are two stories in Lanark, which are related in obscure ways to one another. Books 1 and 2 tell the story of Duncan Thaw, an asthmatic, intellectual child growing up in Glasgow and finding his feet as an artist. Books 3 and 4 concern a man called Lanark who finds himself in the strange other-worldly city of Unthank, a place with no sunlight where people mutate into dragons or are devoured by mouths in the ground. Unthank is very much a hellish vision of Glasgow, and there is more than a hint that Lanark himself is really Duncan Thaw trapped in his own personal hell: Thaw's narrative ends as he walks out into the sea, and Lanark arrives in Unthank with seashells and sand in his pockets.

Of course, you put this together only gradually, since you start by reading Book 3 and only get to Thaw later on. One of the problems with the book is the growing suspicion that Gray just had a couple of mediocre novellas and tried to put them together with some stylistic fireworks to make one Big Novel. But despite my occassional feelings of irritation, in actual fact some of my favourite moments in the book were some of the most contrived, like the section where Lanark meets the author, Alastair Gray himself, who explains exactly what future is about to be written for him. It's very neatly handled. But while the Lanark story provides lots of weird and fascinating encounters, the Duncan Thaw narrative inevitably just seems a bit humdrum and dreary in comparison. I must have read a hundred books about asthmatic, intellectual children growing up, having no success with girls, and trying to make themselves into artists. This one is no different - it's largely modelled on Portrait of the Artist, only without the happy ending. I found myself having no sympathy with either Thaw or Lanark and I was frustrated by their inability to form decent relationships with people around them. How's this for the worst-written sex scene I've come across for many months:

Softly, sadly, he revisited the hills and hollows of a familiar landscape, the sides of his limbs touching sweet abundances with surprisingly hard tips, his endings paddling in the pleats of a wet wound which opened into a boggy cave where little moans bloomed like violets in the blackness. There were dank odours and even a whiff of dung.

Everywhere there is this detachment, this cold, observational quality to the writing which was integral to the characters, but which ultimately stopped me really engaging with the novel. It's a shame, because Book 3 (with which the novel opens) is a brilliant start, and sadly the rest of the work never quite lives up to the exuberance and originality of those first few chapters. I feel like some people may enjoy this more than I did, so if people are thinking of checking it out I'd tell them to go for it, and I'd love to hear any of your experiences with it. But it didn't quite come together for me.
Profile Image for William2.
758 reviews3,079 followers
March 25, 2011
This novel is a mix of dystopia with fantasy elements and bildungsroman. We start in the future where we come across a dysfunctional group of pseudo-cognoscenti hanging out in a local cinema-cum-coffee shop called The Elite. In this section of the book, Lanark, our hero, lives a rather purposeless life in Unthank (parallel universe Glasgow), cavorts with these layabouts there before being sucked underground by a giant pair of lips. There he enters a vast Orwellian compound known as The Institute where everyone's a doctor, or becomes one. He saves a woman, Rima, one of the layabouts, from turning "salamander." He discovers that Soylent Green is people, and for that reason decides to leave the subterreanean Institute and return to the hell of life on the surface of the earth. But before doing so, he is told the story of his former life as one Duncan Thaw by a portable oracle. Thaw lived in the real Glasgow, which I was pleased to see meticulously described for the first time in any fiction that I have ever read. Over more than 300 pages Thaw grows from child to neurotic art student. He has terrible asthma. He masturbates avidly. He can't get a girl. His mother dies horribly. His relationship with his father is deeply moving. The relationships throughout these two central books are so genuine, so vivid. This human warmth is an element lacking from the framing dystopia, because that setting, and all its whacky goings on, distract from the humanity, as it's meant to do. But the dystopic sections are valuable for other reasons: for their depiction of vast, illogical space, of an incomprehensible and deeply criminal military-industrial complex that will stop at nothing to realize a profit. Multiple rereadings are merited. That's high praise. A masterpiece. There, I've said it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,072 followers
February 6, 2011
I read Alasdair's part hopelessly biographical, part darkest fantasy Lanark in the spring of 2007. I could not read it again. In those days I'd identified the character(s) Lanark/Thaw to the person I was in love with (especially the artist parts). (I bet I'm the only person who is gonna say that about THIS book.) Those feelings changed (boy did they ever) and I'd not be able to bear being reminded of those feelings (as they probably should have always been) in their new light. I feel kinda crazy sometimes. This is a crazy book, though, so at least I didn't wander into some cookie-cutter sane land.

Man, maybe it was the judgemental quality that Lanark had towards Rima. I read to understand (I don't understand anything) the yearning something or other, the thing that makes someone tick. And this book didn't give anything back for me now. It was that damned judgemental feeling. (I remember and cringe how the men wanted only a pretty face ["the gaggle of sexuality" so faceless!] yet had the gall to whine when the rest of the package didn't stay just the image. You. get. what. you. put. in. Yeah, it's a fantasy when tht was the basis all along. [Not to mention eating of the soylent green. Creepy. Understandable. Like judging someone for drinking piss in the desert.]) Right or wrong, I'm the one doing the reading all by my lonesome, and eventually, no matter how good the writer is, it's gonna become like a memory altered by one's own perspective. If it is good enough to feel like an experience, anyway. (An experience Lanark most definitely is.) Right or wrong, I'm suffocated by an overdose of that... that shouldn't they want something more? frustration, and those feelings override any objectivity for the intended point. I'm too caught up in the experiencing part and there are other factors like what was the point of MY reading it? Don't want it to end this way, and I don't care at all for class satires, and I'm really fucking depressed now and did I need to be any more depressed than I already was?

I'm especially fucked up now on the human connections thing. Why'd I have to relate to this of all books?

I'm in the minority, too. The Lanark parts were my favorites (the skin/dragonish stuff was Dennis Potteresque).
Profile Image for Edward.
419 reviews405 followers
October 3, 2019
Lanark is an autobiography, a surreal depiction of hell, a literary and metafictional reflection, and a discourse on political systems. These elements amalgamate into a troubled and opaque whole, lacking any real pretence of cohesion; an entirely unique work, about as complex, original and ambitious as a novel can be.

Lanark really is a novel that defies adequate summary or categorisation, and I feel that any rating would be perfectly justifiable. Despite its flaws, I’m giving it five stars, for its commitment its own breadth of originality, and (being something of a literary masochist) its unflinching contempt for the comfort of the reader. Though so much of the book was indecipherable, or drifting, or tedious, even in these unsure moments I still felt captivated and compelled by its sheer honesty and originality.
Profile Image for S̶e̶a̶n̶.
861 reviews364 followers
August 15, 2023
Lanark is a postmodern hero’s quest tale with a dystopian bent and metafictional components to its structure, including a coming-of-age section that reflects the author’s own youthful experiences. It’s a novel that knows its forebearers and honors them accordingly, while expanding in unique ways and incorporating its author’s socialist leanings. Like all great heroes in literature, the character of Lanark/Thaw holds a core of incorruptible purity that enables him to carry on despite the many difficulties he encounters. His basic desires in life remain constant throughout the novel; their seemingly modest quality belies the often complicated paths necessary to travel in search of their fulfillment. I found it helpful to reacquaint myself with a character like this, especially after reading and brooding over too much dark, cynical literature. It’s also astounding to me that this was Alasdair Gray’s first novel. It’s certainly one of the best first novels I’ve read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews502 followers
August 8, 2014
I do not know what I just read. In the best possible way.

What can I say that doesn't spoil something?

-It's illustrated by the author. And rather well, I might add.
-Gray plays with structure. And linearity. And your fucking head.
-Just when you think you know what's going on, you don't.

Tonight I went to the library to see some local new author guy talk about his book which is completely irrelevant to this review. But what is relevant is that the guy sitting in front of me put the book he was reading on the seat next to him when the author-guy started talking. And, because I'm a book-fiend, I contortioned my body to see what he was reading. It was some other book by Alasdair Gray, Poor Things.

I've barely even heard of this Alasdair Gray, and now, the same night I finish Lanark, some other yahoo in Pittsburgh is reading some entirely other book by the same author.

That sort of coincidence makes a ton more sense than anything I just read in Lanark.
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books475 followers
August 5, 2021
When you come down to it…I just didn’t like it. Admittedly, one could write an elaborate PhD thesis about the themes, symbolism, structure and style of this book. If I were willing to take it seriously, I probably could wing a few deep thoughts about it. But I can’t bring myself to because I just disliked it.

Lanark is a disjointed mashup of three styles. Half the book is a realist rendition of The Artist as a Young Man set in Scotland, the other half is a surrealist vision of hell cribbed from The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, and then a few scenes add a soupcon of straight up characters-talk-to-the-author, author-talks-to-the-reader baloney like a lazy John Barthes or Pirandello. Within the po-mo sections of the book, Gray even acknowledges how many of his ideas were “stolen” from other books and how artificially jammed together the two sections are. Unfortunately, his pseudo-humility is just cheap. Look how slapped together this is…isn’t that clever to acknowledge it? It didn’t strike me as clever or humble, however the slapped together part was accurate.

Pre-read blurbs describe this as a story about how even though love is always flawed, humans always seek to find love. This story didn’t seem focused on love at all. Yes there are some failed attempts by the main character to find love. But none of the characters he expresses love for are fully fleshed out. For a story to be about love, you need to feel the characters feel love for each other. The primary relationships are mostly hostile with such spotty affection and so one-sided in development that the only exposition about love that I saw is the main character’s desperate need to believe that he deserved it. And his constant frustration that women he directed his affection toward didn’t supply it as he desired. All the elements that were supposedly some grand theme around “love” seemed more like a petty, gendered desire for being loved by an insecure neurotic.

The novel, being split into two parts, had roughly two different foundational messages that I took away. One is that family life and childhood are fucked up, psychologically mess you up, and economic demands are part of what damages us. The second half of the book elaborates on the economic struggles and pinpoints the collusion between corporations, the most wealthy individuals and the governments of the world as poisoning life, destroying society and rationalizing it all in pursuit of profit. Accurate, sure, but I didn't need to read 1000 pages about it in fictionalized format. In the end, this story was far less about love and far more about abstract economics.

Overall, Lanark was a bit of a trudge to get through and while I appreciated the unique nature of its structure, in the end that unique nature was little more than a cobbled together Frankenstein’s monster. Bleh.
Profile Image for Deniz Balcı.
Author 2 books602 followers
September 24, 2018
Lanark hakkında genel kanımı kısaca söylememi isteseniz; çok iyi olmanın kenarından dönmüş bir roman olduğunu söylerdim. Kitapla ilgili farklı farklı başlıklarda, hepimizin farklı yorumlamış olduğunu hayretle fark edeceğimiz çok şey konuşmak mümkün. Bence en temel problem de burada yatıyor zaten. Karmaşanın da kendi içinde bir düzeni olmalı. Özellikle insan kaleminden çıkma kurmacalarda. Fakat Lanark’ın bu düzeni de kendi içinde karışmış durumda. Yazar şık oyunlar, efsane Hatime bölümü ile yepyeni bir tazelik katmaya çalışmış; bir yandan da edebiyat tarihine bir resmigeçit yapmış, okurunu da soğuk suyun altına sokup biraz kendine getirmiş vs hepsine tamamım. Ancak tüm bu çabalarında tıpkı kitapta büyücü namıyla karakterleştirdiği kendisine dönmüş. Zaten bu bölümde yazarlığın, yaşadıklarının kaleminde başkalaşıp, edebileşip sözcüklere dökülmesiyle meydana geldiğini söylüyor. Mutlaka da öyledir. Hem Gray için hem de başka bir sürü yazar için. O yüzden yazar kendi kişisel tarihinin tanıklıklarını, yeni dünyanın dönüşümünü, yalnızlaşmayı ve yabancılaşmayı; tercih ettiği sürreal bir yöntemle aktarmayı seçmiş. Bunu yaparken de bir yolculuk kurgulayıp, ayrıksı görünen ama aslında çok sıradan biri olan karakteri Lanark’ı belli sarmalların içinde dolandırıp, klasik yapıya zaman zaman çelme takan bir öykü tasarlamış. Tam can alıcı noktada da kendini romana dahil edip bir edebiyat şovuna sahiplik yapmak istemiş. Başarısız olduğunu da söyleyemem. Fakat kafası karışık ya da aklı çok yüklü yazarın anlattıkları, Lanark gibi beni de biraz yordu. Bazı ayrıntıları, yönetmenlerin sırf çekimi güzel olduğu için filmin bütününe hizmet etmese de, hatta filmin değerinden eksiltse bile kullandıkları o biricik sahneleri gibi. Her bölüm kendi içinde güzel ancak bütünde bir kakafoni, bir bulanıklık. Kitapla ilgili bence en büyük eksiklik bu. Yazar okurun, kutsal ruh olduğu bölüm var ya, burada bahsettiği gibi kutsal ruhu kaybetmemek için, kanıksatmış. Bir yerden sonra garipliklerin değeri sıfıra denk düşüyor. Belki de “Uykuda Çocuk Ölümleri”nin ardından bu kitabı okuduğum için böyle hissediyorum bilmiyorum.

Diğer yandan Lanark çok olağandışı bir roman. Böylesi denemelere sanatın her alanında, yapılardan ve geleneklerden sıkılmış bir insan olarak olumlu yaklaşıyorum. Tarih, din, sanat, politika, yaşam, cinsellik ve aklınıza gelebilecek daha başka bir sürü konu hakkında Alasdair Gray’ın fikirlerini görüyoruz. Kapitalizm hakkında birçok yazar kurmaca yazmıştır mesela ama Gray içlerinde cidden parlayacak bir şekilde derdini anlatıyor. Fantazyanın ögelerini çok dozunda ve yerinde kullanıyor. Yarattığı modern dünyanın işleyişindeki distopik yapı ayrı bir şekilde anlatılsa ve romanın omurgası bu olsa mesela çok başarılı bir yapıt ortaya çıkabilir. Bu kadar zengin hayalgücünü romanın fonunda göstermeyi tercih ediyor. Tıpkı ergen Thaw gibi motifleri nerede kullanmak konusunda kararsız ya da haddiden daha büyük şeyler anlatmak ve göstermek istiyor, bilmiyorum. Sadece kısmen hissedilen bir odak sorunu olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Belki Gray bunu istemiştir onu da bilmiyorum. Yine de tüm metaforlar ve simgeler adrese teslim tek tek yerlerine ulaşıyorlar.

Çeviri bana bir rahatsızlık vermedi, hatta zaman zaman çok lezzetli olduğunu düşündüm. Metis’in özenli yayıncılığından, baskıdan ve tasarımdan söz etmeme gerek yok herhalde. Mutlaka okuyun demiyorum size ama kalıplaşmış fantazya yazınına alternatif bir kitap arıyorsanız kesinlikle okuyun. Pişman olmayacaksınızdır.


İyi okumalar!

7.5/10
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,197 reviews116 followers
April 28, 2022
Muddled, tedious and depressingly bleak, yet also oddly compelling. While such a weird and strangely structured book could easily feel contrived, Lanark feels very much like the genuine semi-autobiographical tale that it is, of a selfish, neurotic artist desperately seeking love and meaning and failing miserably. The self-referential narrative is anything but cohesive, with a fluidity of voice, time and place, and the reader is afforded little hand holding. It is replete with social and philosophical commentary, often with Marxist undertones, as well as the many personal torments and failings that bridge the protagonist's worlds of reality and fantasy, realized here as the illogical hellish dystopia called Unthank, where the protagonist is himself more stable yet his environment less so. It's difficult to sympathize with him as he has few redeeming qualities, yet the story has an undeniable pathos. I feel like this could justify any rating I might give it. On a pure enjoyment scale it certainly ranks lower than on a basis of originality, ambition and honesty.
219 reviews6 followers
September 20, 2010
Started out interesting, and I was looking forward to finding out more of the strange world and how people ended up and got out of there, but the main character seriously annoyed and even more so when I got to his "real" life. A more narcissistic, misogynistic and antisocial character I've seldom met, and I found it hard to keep reading about him. It got a bit more interesting in the last part, but the world-building never really worked for me. Interesting but flawed.
Profile Image for Andreea.
203 reviews54 followers
June 21, 2012
Around 200 pages mark: Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo long - and unbearably boring. I only have about 200 pages left so I'll soldier through and finish it although I'm unimpressed and will probably not pick up another Gray for some time.

Later: Rarely do I give up on a book if I've already already managed to read its first 490 pages and have only around 60 pages left because after trudging through so many pages it feels pointless not to make a final effort and spend half an hour actually finishing the thing.

But rarely does a book offer me such a good excuse to stop reading it with just 60 pages left to go.

The city of the Glasgow is the best and only real character beside Gray himself in this book - and in all honesty it is the only reason why I kept reading. I don't think that Gray (and it is Gray speaking clearly through Thaw / Lanark, his self identification / self insertion is one of the reasons why the book is painful to read) is right when he says that a city needs to be used by an artist in order for the inhabitants to live in it imaginatively - or to imagine themselves living in it. I've lived most of my life in an unimagined / unused small town which in which I imagined myself living all my life without feeling the need for other people or artists' stories to inhabit it. And then two years ago I moved away from that small town to Glasgow. I don't even feel like Gray / Lanark / Thaw inhabit Glasgow imaginatively, they're so self-obsessed and so obsessed with how much better they are than everybody else and how ~unique~ their artistic vision / fate is, they try to make Glasgow inhabit them rather than the other way around. This means you only get occasional glimpses of the real city which is disappointing.

But not really the reason why I'm giving up on this book now.

That reason is the pompous in which Gray compares himself and his book with everybody from Homer to the Bible to Dante to Herman Melville right after he (the author) tells Lanark (which is a thinly disguised version of the author) that,

'Everything you have experienced and are experiencing, from your first glimpse of the Elite cafe to the metal of that spoon in your fingers, the taste of the soup in your mouth, is made of one thing. [...] Print. Some worlds are made of atoms but yours is made of tiny marks marching in neat lines, like armies of insects across pages and pages and pages of white paper. Isay these lines are marching, but that is a metaphor. They are perfectly still. They are lifeless. How can they reproduce the movement and the noises of the battle of Borodino, the white whale ramming the ship, the fallen angels on the flaming lake?'

'By being read,' said Lanark impatiently.
'Exactly. Your survival as a character and mine as an author depend on us seducing a living soul into our printed world and trapping it here long enough for us to steal the imaginative energy which gives us life. To cast a spell over this stranger I am doing abominable things. I am prostituting my most sacred memories into the commonest possible words and sentence.' etc etc etc more pretentious drivel etc etc


Wellllll, since writing this book is so much bother, I think I'll just snap it shut, dispel you into non-existence and spare myself the annoyance of having to read another 60 pages of what you affectionately call ~arse-wipe~.
Profile Image for Sharon.
318 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2007
One of my favorite books of all time. One of my most prized possessions is a beautiful collector's edition of this book I received as a gift. Although it is an amalgamation of many things--weird sci-fi dystopia/apocalypse, coming-of-age artist portrait, and political and class satire among them--it is one of the most wholly original works I have read, and it is deeply affecting. I adore this book.
Profile Image for Melanie.
556 reviews289 followers
January 6, 2019
Wow what a book. Another year of #readingscotland and #scottishbooks and I was weary of this title because it splits opinion and has been deemed unreadable by some. I loved this. This is not a book for everyone. Part autobiographical, part dystopian, post-modern and surreal, it is without a shadow of a doubt a book that will displease more people than it pleases. But this reader here is jolly glad she read it. Loved this. (Also best Description of being asthmatic in fiction, was I surprised to hear Alasdair Gray is an asthmatic)
Profile Image for Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly.
755 reviews347 followers
April 1, 2011
This is an Up Yours Novel.

Maybe I invented this semanteme. But that was how it felt as I finished reading it--Alasdair Gray grinning, giving me the finger.

I was amused, angry too, but smiling. It was not a joke, Gray spent years and years writing this. I suspect that at first he didn't know where he was going. He just wrote, grew old, wrote some more, and grew older. Finally he realized he must stop somewhere. He already had almost four books, all unpublished. So how to end? He clenched his fist, stuck his middle finger out, and showed it to everyone.

On the other hand, if this were a serious book, then I can liken it to Yukio Mishima, the famous Japanese writer. He built an impressive trove of literary treasures (novels, plays, essays, short stories), engaged in martial arts to keep himself fit. Famous, rich, handsome and with a fine specimen of a body, he then gutted himself to death. This novel of four books similarly disemboweled itself in the end.

The reader gets to read first the third (3rd) book where he is brought to a dark place called Unthank. The principal character, Lanark, always hoping to see the sun, the word "dawn" a forgotten, exotic, romantic idea. Sci-fi? The author denies it. A futuristic, dystopic world? Maybe. But the evil here looks old and comical.

Gray, judging from his drawings (yes, this has his drawings AND self-portraits) is probably insane. Out of his short-circuiting brain came this astonishing wonder. Can a work of genius be merely accidental? I say yes, and this could be a good example. (if heroism can be accidental, why can't genius?)

So there. If you can't understand this review then I tell you again: if I didn't understand a book, I review it like this. Then I give it a high rating (easier to explain a high rating than a low one--just sprinkle the review with benign superlatives). After these, I pretend it's all only because I don't want it to be a spoiler that I didn't disclose what happened or what the book is all about.
Profile Image for John.
282 reviews65 followers
July 12, 2010
Crazy, frustrating, intensely boring in parts and brilliant in others, Lanark is Gray's stab at the Divine Comedy. Divided into four non-consecutive books, two of which take place in the Glaswegian hell of Unthank, the other two in Glasgow, we follow the life of Duncan Thaw (or Lanark, as he is called in Unthank) through his youth, death, and afterlife. I loved the dragons in book 3--an eczema-like disease leads to people becoming full-blown dragons. This felt like a perfect image for the emotional state of just about every character in this novel.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,899 reviews379 followers
May 6, 2022
I cannot take this anymore. I've been trying to read this since the beginning of February and I still do not know what is going on. I'm sure there are people out there that can chant philosophy or some such from reading this book but not me. I am over this.
Profile Image for Drew.
238 reviews121 followers
May 19, 2011
Maybe one of the best autobiographical novels out there, and certainly the best one I've read. Near perfect for the most part, with just the right few fatal flaws. Lanark follows the life of Thaw/Lanark, through his short, nasty life in Scotland and his afterlife in Unthank. But it's arranged so that you get the first half of the afterlife, then the whole life itself, then the second half of the afterlife. It's a sensible way to lay it out, but it has the side effect of seeming like it's arranged so that you'll be forced to read the less interesting middle part (also the part that more closely resembles Gray's life, it seems) in order to get back to Unthank.

There is a shamelessly metafictional interpolation called the Epilogue near, but before, the end, wherein Lanark meets his Author and has several pages of infuriating conversation that seem mostly meant to anticipate and dismiss the problems and self-indulgences of the novel itself; in other words, to cover Gray's ass. Not only that, but in the margins of the Epilogue there is an "Index of Plagiarism" which ostensibly acknowledges Gray's literary debts, but really seems like a desperate ploy to convince the reader of Gray's erudition and consummate literariness. I'm convinced, but not impressed. I don't normally think of novels in terms of literary movements, but it seems like this one really wanted its postmodern credentials. Which is strange, because it seems to think that drawing attention to the novel as novel is a really neat and innovative trick, which by 1981 it totally isn't.

Luckily, the so-called Epilogue can be entirely disregarded.

Despite the flaws listed above, Gray's writing is for the most part endlessly inventive, and his descriptions are among the best I've read, although they can get self-indulgent. And there really are some achingly nice scenes in there. Thus the five stars.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,891 reviews1,419 followers
August 13, 2012
Alasdair Gray notes in the Epilogue section, strangely on p. 493 of his 560 page novel: " A possible explanation is that the author thinks a heavy book will make a bigger splash than two light ones. This note, well the entire section, appears to reconcile the disparate narratives which occupy the novel. Seldom have I ever encountered such polarizing sections; the Thaw scenes I absolutely loved and the Lanark/Unthank episodes were perfectly dreadful. The latter was likely intentional, portraits of hell should be infernal, I suppose.

Digressions and comparisons ensue. The artist's failure to love is mirrored with Hell's thwarting of contentment. I see that. It does beg some reflection.

It was good novel for one's birthday week, especially while entertaining dear visitors from overseas. It was a whirlwind of trips and laughs. A beer or two may have been swallowed along the way. Lanark was good for all that. Folks were taken back to the airport. The heat actually left the area and this allowed the delegate theme at the end to be absorbed without enkindling any serial rage.

Lanarks works and it is good to love and endure.
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 10 books4,405 followers
January 28, 2019
Lanark is a fever dream so rich and strange and complex and many-faced it can't be done justice by a review (certainly not one by me). If you like stories that make you feel like you've been drugged and seem like five novels fighting inside one skin, this is for you.
Profile Image for Nicole.
357 reviews158 followers
August 30, 2014
I'm feeling hugely ambivalent about this book.

On the one hand, the first book (which is also the third book) is tremendous. As I was reading it, I was thinking, ah, this book is going to be one of those five star books, maybe even a favorite. This is splendid: inventive, engaging.

Then we hit backstory. About this I felt meh. It's a narrative of a life, with maybe more mental illness in it than most, but okay, competently done, worth reading. Nothing, however, like the first (third) part, which was so splendid. By now, though, I've figured out that we're going back to that world of the first (third) part for the last part, which is also the last part, except for all the parts that come after. So I'm thinking it'll perk up.

Except somehow, now, it's not the same. This section reads like it's trying too hard. The inventiveness and the subtlety are gone, and now it feels like something that's waiting for you to assign a one-to-one correlation between its world and the world outside the text. But okay, maybe it's just comparison with the other part that's the trouble, and it's not like actively bad except for maybe some of the stuff about girls, which while we're probably not meant to actively endorse, is still wildly fucked up and not clearly satire or unreliable narrator either. But still, okay.

So then, today, I hit the EPILOGUE, which is horrible. Seriously. Prententious, unnecessary, ridiculous, probably there to show off to us how well read the author is, how serious his project. Alasdair, dude, erudite writers with big arty projects don't, and I mean emphatically DON'T, need to announce the fact of this. People can, like, tell, without you hanging a lantern on it. I feel like he must not have had any editor of any kind, because there is no way that anyone competent would let this pass.

Anyway, I've got the ending (post-epilogue, not a book, part of it helpfully labelled "climax") coming, and now I really just want to be done with this book. At the same time, I would recommend that first part unreservedly. So, you know, what IS that? Like, how would I star rate something like this? What do you say to people, oh it's a great book, in fact it's a terrible book, don't go past page 150 whatever you do, uh, dude, I can't describe it you'll just have to read it yourself?

What?
Profile Image for merixien.
591 reviews329 followers
June 22, 2021
Lanark okuyucusundan ciddi seviyede bir sabır ve anlayış bekleyen kitaplardan. Yazım tarzı, kronolojik akmayan sıralaması ve konusuyla çok farklı ve okuma süreci boyunca sevgi-nefret arasında gelgitler yaşıyorsunuz. Kitap dört bölümden (kitaptan) oluşuyor ki bu dört bölüm de aslında Duncan ile Lanark’ın hayat döngüsünün içine giriyorsunuz.ilk bölüm -ki aslında bu üçüncü kitap- bilim kurgu olarak başlıyor, sonraki bölümde ise bildungsroman örneğine dönüşüyor. Hatta bu geçiş o kadar keskin ki, ikinci bölüme geçtiğiniz ilk sayfalarda, bir an için post apokaliptik bir dünyaya geçtiğinizi sanıyorsunuz. Devam ettiğinizdeyse, aslında 2. Dünya Savaşı sonrası Glasgow’da olduğunuzu anlıyorsunuz. Açıkcası, postmodern yapıdaki kitapları seviyorsanız ve yeterince sabrınız varsa bittiğinde karşılığını veren kitaplardan. Zira yazarın 30 yılda yazıp, yaklaşık olarak da 10 yılda yayınlattığı kitabın okuması da oldukça geniş bir zaman istiyor. Bu açıdan bakıldığında da, yayınlandığı yıl değil de yazıldığı -yayımlanmasından yaklaşık olarak 40 yıl öncesi- dönem göz önüne alındığında oldukça etkileyici ve farklı kurgulanmış, lakin kıymeti çok da bilinmemiş kitaplardan.
Profile Image for Ana.
69 reviews
January 12, 2019
Lanark, you miserable cuck.
Duncan Thaw, you wheezy incel tosser.
Alasdair Gray, you pretentious prick.

I am glad to be rid of all three of you.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
876 reviews1,108 followers
April 19, 2013
2.5 stars.

Hype is a funny thing isn't it? Sometimes it can put something on your radar that you wouldn't normally have paid any attention to, and you come out of that situation the better person. And then there are the times where this doesn't happen. Those are the painful times, and it really does pain me to have to write this review.

Let me just clarify, I go by the Goodreads star rating system. 2 stars means 'it was okay'. I have given this 2.5 because I feel that the book deserves more praise than that, but did I like it? Not so much, or at least not enough to warrant a 3 star review.

So like I said, hype. This book is a beast of a text; dense, highly imaginative, and at times frustrating. I've heard people say this is Gray's 'Ulysses', and I can understand why people have said this. Although it is not narrated in the stream of consciousness style, it sometimes feels just as crazed and confusing. You really need to take your time with this novel, and allow yourself to be sucked into Gray's two worlds (very similar and very different in equal amounts). I can't say if the world of Unthank is meant to be Glasgow (the introduction by William Boyd claims Edinburgh), but it's definitely hellish. And I have to say, I preferred the two sections that were set in Glasgow, with Duncan Thaw as our narrator more than the Unthank/Lanark sections. Maybe that's just me, I don't know.

The worlds created in this novel are extremely vivid, and you really feel the emotions of Thaw and Lanark as the book progresses. Those emotions are crushing, smothering, and downright depressing. And that's where I felt this book fell a little flat for me - I severely disliked the narrators. Occasionally, you find a book with characters you dislike but you can still enjoy the story because you almost enjoy hating them. This really wasn't the case for Lanark - I was finding myself enraged by the actions or words that Thaw/Lanark were coming out with, and I could really understand why people were turning away from them. That being said, some of the characters who come into contact with Thaw/Lanark were equally despicable. At many points in the book I wanted to throttle Rima and tell her to stop being an idiotic crazy woman. Again, that might have just been me. Overall though, I did not find myself rooting for any of the characters at all really.

There are some excellent sections to this book which I really enjoyed. There were big chunks of Thaw's narrative that I found very entertaining, such as his schooling and his time at the Glasgow School of Art. Likewise there were some incidents that I found interesting in Lanark's narrative, such as the meetings in the cinema café and the transformations (I'll leave it at that, no spoilers here). Unfortunately, these moments of brilliance weren't enough to save the novel for me. At times I found the book to be incredibly pretentious (the Epilogue, oh dear lord the Epilogue), and found myself wanting to repeatedly roll my eyes. Towards the end of part 4, I found myself getting extremely bored too - it became far too dense and political for my liking.

I will say though that the structure of the novel was superb - extremely well done and a very different way of reading. I always enjoy Gray's artwork, and it's very pleasant to get to a new section of the book and see the illustrations he included. I love that he is talented not just with writing but with art too, it's such a fresh thing to experience.

Overall, I'm happy that I saw this book through to the end. It is a cult classic after all (or so I'm led to believe). Would I read it again though? No, probably not. I still prefer Poor Things.
Profile Image for Jeremy Garber.
269 reviews
February 5, 2015
A fascinating, experimental yet eminently readable, funny and serious, neo-Romantic novel about a guy at odds with the world(s) around him. Lanark is a self-aware novel in which the main character switches back and forth between an allegorical post-apocalyptic world and the grim landscape of industrial Scotland. The protagonist, a somewhat slothful wannabe artist, tries desperately to create epic works of art and to find True Romance, but lacks the willpower or compassion to do either. When he finds himself in the other world, he becomes a pawn of the military-industrial complex that is (literally!) eating its citizens and the planet alive in the search for growing profit. It is this social critique that, even forty years later, is the most pointed and poignant message of this novel - that the forces of greed and fear are rolling juggernauts that seek to control all of society just to add on a buck or two to their existing billions. The author is a keen enough writer to be completely aware of his preachy tendencies and even to mock them at the same time he speaks them - including an epilogue three chapters before the conclusion of the novel in which the protagonist meets the author himself and the author implies that all of literature has led up to the creation of this book! Sexy, funny, and importantly political, Lanark is worth the investment of time it takes to get what's going on in these several hundred pages. And more importantly, it will hopefully move its readers to be more successful in fighting the military capitalist juggernaut than its titular character.
Profile Image for Özgür Atmaca.
Author 2 books59 followers
July 28, 2018
Bitireli çok zaman olmuştu askıda kalmış..
Lanark kapağında yazdığı gibi çok katmanlı 4 kitaplık çok hayatlı bir içiçelik.
Neden bu kadar uzun olduğu hakkında kendinden de uzun cümleler yazılabilir ama gerek yok gibi. Kitabın icerigine girmeyeceğim çünkü bu bir kulüp okuması idi. Benim de aklıma takılan ve merakla beklediğim cevaplar var ama bunları almam zaman alacak.
Kitaptan kırdığım bir yıldız edebiyatının benim açımdan zayıf olduğunu düşünmemdendir fakat bunun dışında kalan her şeyin de tum yıldızları toplaması kitabın iç gücünü gösteriyor.
Belki bir süre sonra yorumunu güncellemek için dönerim.
Saygılar.
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