My REAL-TIME REVIEW of VIRTUE IN DANGER by Reggie Oliver continues from HERE into the Comment Stream below…
The cover of this book, not only bearing a hole, also has proud veins:
Like an old pair of trousers!
Not a tontine as such but a leapfrogging or a baton-passing of responsibilities vis-a-vis the MRM audit trail of power in the moral crusade as we learn more about Bayard, his weaknesses as well as strengths, his once being a Wimbledon tennis player, a depth of character that now, I infer, begins to leapfrog or usurp or exploit the author’s own head-lease creatorship of this book’s world as well as to transcend what I sense to be this book’s author’s surrogate or vicarious participation in the book itself, such participation being by dint of identifying with Ivor Smith who had, notwithstanding such identification, passed the baton to Bayard with an impulse beyond the author’s power to cause or prevent. Any authorial ultramontanism should thus be neutralised by the literary imperatives of the Intentional Fallacy despite, from personal prior knowledge, my factoring into this book the belief that its author is a theatrical actor like Ivor Smith as well as an accomplished writer. My own critical Purity or Virtue in Danger?
And suede shoes!
“A good rule of leadership, if you cannot crush your enemies, is to neutralise them by magnanimity.”
Here, amid the telling contrast of strict mourning attire and the mishap of a rainy day enforcing more casual wear, we have the machinations of a literary mystery (cf this book’s earlier ‘Agatha Christie’ method of acting), some inferred crime story conducted by the lower caste aliens in the MRM-viewed pecking-order of humanity, given stark relief by MRM’s strict codes of morality, by what I see as the polarised certainties of BOTH left and right wing politics disguising the cruelty of history … and disguising the self-righteous contamination of our individual personal morality that mankind is ever fighting new wars about. Didacticism as a two-edged blade. I find myself often fighting from both sides of the ethical coin, one day a head, the next a tail. This book certainly gives us food for thought amid all its humour of splendid literary artifice which, like a ‘culture’, is a seed-bed of competing truths. Absurdity to face out absurdity.
Man of Goat
“Bayard lifted his keen profile to the afternoon sun…”
There is a mysticism to this book, which may well not be intended by the head-lease author when releasing its stage show or stage show within a stage show and thus endangering our pure virtue of interpretation. At the end of John Cowper Powys’ ‘Glastonbury Romance’ and AS Byatt’s ‘The Virgin in the Garden’ and my ‘Glistenberry Festival’, there is tantamount to a stage show that culminates each book, both mixing the polarised forces of Christianity and pagan, God the fanatic omniscient, with, I recall, an actor or playwright as protagonist. One wonders if this Oliver book is to culminate with the funeral or the already rehearsed propaganda play wherein Smith is acting. Or both? Meanwhile, Ivor Smith has a rite of passage in the mountains, like Mann’s Hans Castorp encountering a cannibalistic vision in the snow. Here, instead, Smith ironically encounters Alice, his earlier co-conspirator in concupiscence. Smith’s love came easy, but Castorp’s was long unrequited love as in Proust. And Proust had ‘inverts’ like Charlus as backdrop, as in Smith’s world. The relativity of Literature, as well as of Morality and Religion, where separate books share pages, share leitmotifs toward some greater gestalt: and here wondrous Breitman’s ugly leg once slipping unbeknownst out of his bed is equivalent to the goat-obsessed pastor’s Man of God’s goat-leg… Or the Devil’s?
Because of the cats
“There was the same bland confidence that what was being consulted was an external force rather than an internal confusion.”
As God or Author struggles to control the accidental or deliberate confusion of characters, Smith’s own unrequited love not being Alice, but Sylvia – a game of thrones, an ancient sorcery of cats, as the propaganda play takes place off-stage, so not the Wagnerian festival I expected earlier today. I am now increasingly wrong-footed by the narrative path I am following. Not a bad feeling, as I like getting lost in woods. I dare even mention the name Aickman for the first time in this review…
“Sentences begun by one member were spontaneously completed by another.”
“The Job of the Artist is to Always Deepen the Mystery” (Francis Bacon)
This Real-Time Review continues HERE.
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