Aubrey's Reviews > The Radiance of the King

The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye
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3.5/5
You see what I mean by ‘luck,’ and what others mean when they talk of ‘merit.’
I'm giving this a mere three on the star scale as an urgent reminder to someday come back to it in a far more equipped fashion. Said equipage so far consists of the concrete form of Toni Morrison's introduction to an edition of this work other than my own, along with some vague handwavey aspirations at a far greater amount of so-generalized "African" literature under my belt. What I didn't get I lost, what I did get I don't trust, and what appealed or disagreed or was just really really weird all came out of a context that I have minimal experience with, if any at all. One could call it a cop out if time was merely a string of frozen ahistorical instances, but alas. It's not.
His eye, it seemed, might have been turned inward or might have been contemplating his own person…And where could such an eye have found a place of rest, if not inhimself?...All the same, so much indifference cast a chill…Of course, one could understand such indifference—Clarence understood it—and one could accept it, one could resign himself to accepting it. One knew quite well that one had no right to anything but indifference and that in fact on deserved to be treated with repugnance: but all this did not make that indifference less chill, or less cruel, or less desolating…
Much as this statement rings of the white supremacist patriarchy, I don't trust my own reactions to it because of how easy it is to fall into the simple dichotomy. The dominant discourse is _______ so this brutally suppressed and phased out of the dominant discourse's recognition must be _________, save for the fact that grading cultures on a have and have-not is still an implicit judgment of what, in fact, deserves to survive. I came for what I had heard of as reverse Heart of Darkness and found a continuation of the literary tradition of Guinea and a whole lot of other complex things I'm not familiar with at all. Do you have any experience with the narrative tradition of Guinea, specifically as comparable as one gets of the English tradition in US classrooms? I sure don't.
“Isn’t your father a high court judge?” he whispered in the dancer’s ear.
“I should think not!” said the dancer. “I wouldn’t allow such a thing in my house. My father is an honourable man!”
“Isn’t a lord president an honourable man?” asked Clarence.
“Those sort of men have all kinds of dangerous contacts,” she replied.
Things I got: eradication of body-hatred, invalidation of the idea that the soul has a credit history, decoupling of justice from an inherent justification of sadism, forgoing of the idea that the worth of a human being is completely within the control of said human being, swallowing of the guilty-till-proven-innocent sense of human "worth" with communal holism, and a scoffing at matters of hierarchy and body-accorded measures of a "life worth living". Things I didn't get: forests, mazes, wings, dancing, View of the Female (that's my western feminism for you), snakes, the South, and WHAT THE FUCK WAS UP WITH THE MANATEES. LIKE. I was going along in relatively peaceful ignorance and then holy shit why. Whyyyyyyyy...
"I've still got the right," he told himself, "but I no longer have the means to put my anger into effect."...The means! Is that what one's "rights" were?..."
I aim to better get this yet. Except for the manatees. Those I am happy to have sit in their own corner while I go and not think about it for the time being.
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Reading Progress

July 8, 2013 – Shelved
July 8, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
July 8, 2013 – Shelved as: nyrb-classic
March 14, 2014 – Shelved as: person-of-everything
April 9, 2015 – Started Reading
April 9, 2015 – Shelved as: translated
April 9, 2015 – Shelved as: french
April 9, 2015 – Shelved as: person-of-translated
April 9, 2015 –
page 27
10.67% ""I've still got the right," he told himself, "but I no longer have the means to put my anger into effect."...The means! Is that what one's "rights" were?..."
April 20, 2015 –
page 190
75.1% "I suppose just men would be much less just if their justice pandered less to their love of cruelty."
April 20, 2015 – Shelved as: 1-read-on-hand
April 20, 2015 – Shelved as: 3-star
April 20, 2015 – Shelved as: r-2015
April 20, 2015 – Shelved as: r-goodreads
April 20, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed
April 20, 2015 – Finished Reading
June 24, 2015 – Shelved as: antidote-think-twice-read
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: antidote-think-twice-all
February 24, 2018 – Shelved as: antidote-translated

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Love this review. It sounds intimidating but also like a book I should be seeking out more actively!


Aubrey Thanks, Lisa. The guaranteeing oneself of the chance of rereads is a great inhibitor of intimidation.


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