September 02, 2003

Jack Maggs, Peter Carey

Wonderfully disdainful of Dickens and respectful of Dicken's novels, if we can take Oates as a take on Dickens, and I think we can. Someone else, talking about Charlotte M. Yonge, tells me she likes to imagine Yonge's novels if Yonge had had to make her way in California or Australia for a while. I don't know, though, maybe she would have retreated into a defensive shell of more-genteel-than-thou.

Maggs does, values gentility so far above its deserts that it nearly kills him. He reminded me of Agamemnon going to his bath, bull-like, so large and suspicious elsewhere and helpless against duplicity. It's a triple trick for his dialogue: it has to carry his considerable intelligence, without education, and then the huge gap in his street smarts and character-reading both when he's chasing his will-'o-the-wisp.

ISBN: 0-679-44008-9

So wrote clew in Fiction (20th c.). | TrackBack
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