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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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New Essay

Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

God of Small Things

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The vibrant world of this novel is too big and too busy, bursting chaotically through the traditional seams of the rural Indian town of Ayemenem where it is set. Roy constructs, through a snowballing, growing structure of tiny details, a riotous environment of human life, of insects, of satellite television, business enterprises, weather, sexualities, educations, politicians and conflicting ethnicities.

Like that later Booker-prize winner, Life of Pi, the novel employs the perspectives of the fairy-tale, placing children - in the form of the twins Estha and Rahel and the newcomer to their world, the English-born Sophie Mol - as the characters about whom the asynchronous narrative is orientated, and through whose naive and roaming eyes the reader watches. Entering the minds of the young, this work implies, can help adults to establish order in a complex, apparently random and disconnected, postmodern world because children understand (though they often misinterpret) their various discoveries in acceptably imprecise terms, in relation to other, earlier, small moments of discovery. Every new object or lesson is described in terms of something different, by itself insignificant, which they already know or have learnt: a squashed frog leaves a frog-shaped stain on the road, and so a dead person leaves a human-shaped hole in the universe; a sexual deviant sells orange drink, and his semen is another form of juice. Children advance happily, though not always innocently, through metaphor, of which this novel is an adult's sustained, delightful and complex version.

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Posted by Alistair at 3:12 pm


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