skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
[personal profile] skygiants
For me, the experience of reading this Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant was a lot like that Utena duel song that goes "allegory, allegorier, ALLEGORIEST." Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple, living in a Briton village in an England afflicted by a fog that obscures memories, decide to take a voyage to visit a son in another village whom they don't quite remember but are nonetheless sure exists. Along the way, they encounter several symbolic boatmen, numerous symbolic angry widows, a Saxon child with a mysterious symbolic wound, a Saxon swordsman with a mysterious symbolic quest, various confused symbolic memory-fog-afflicted soldiers, and an elderly Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain, it goes without saying, is also extremely symbolic. There are also ogres and dragons. The ogres do things like accidentally eat poison sheep and then lie dying in ditches, sinking slowly into the mire, while children stare silently over the edge of the ditch at them. It's that kind of book.

The memory-fog that lies across the country obscures two large mysteries: what happened between the Saxons and the Britons during Arthur's wars and what lies between and underneath their currently peaceful relationship, and what memories Axl and Beatrice have lost and what lies between and underneath their current loving relationship. The book's central questions are things like 'at what price peace?' and 'at what price justice?' and 'can love be real when it's not built on anything?' These are solid questions, though I'm not entirely sure four hundred pages of dreamy unsubtle allegory is my favorite way to examine them.


My big structural frustration with the book is that the two central mysteries do not turn out to be the same mystery. Axl's backstory is part of the bigger mystery of the Matter of Britain, but this is totally unrelated to his marriage to Beatrice; their big secret is that she had an affair once, which led to a bunch of tragic personal consequences and Axl acting like an asshole. That's it? Beatrice not only never gets a POV, she also doesn't get to be part of the matter of Britain and vast national trauma at all? Women only get domestic tragedies, apparently!

Smaller frustrations:
- why the candle
- why the poison goat
- DOES ANYTHING EVER EVEN EAT CHEKHOV'S SECOND POISON GOAT
- if not then what is even the point of introducing a poison goat
- (allegory)
- (the point is allegory)
- (I have not identified the specific poison goat symbolism yet but I'm not entirely sure I care enough to make the effort)

Date: 2017-05-07 03:57 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
The ogres do things like accidentally eat poison sheep and then lie dying in ditches, sinking slowly into the mire, while children stare silently over the edge of the ditch at them. It's that kind of book.

//laughs helplessly

Date: 2017-05-07 05:53 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
My big structural frustration with the book is that the two central mysteries do not turn out to be the same mystery.

That is frustrating. I was assuming from the preceding summary that they would turn out to be avatars of Arthur and Guinevere and have to heal their marriage in order to heal Britain or something. This is what comes of reading Diana Wynne Jones as a child.

Have the sheep/goats been poisoned or are they just inherently poisonous? The second would be more confusing.

Date: 2017-05-07 06:34 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
I abandoned this book a third of the way through. : / I just did not care enough...

Date: 2017-05-08 12:50 am (UTC)
aamcnamara: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aamcnamara
ALLEGORIEST is certainly a good descriptor of this book!

Date: 2017-05-08 03:48 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer
And shadow commentary, I'm guessing.

Date: 2017-05-09 01:21 am (UTC)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
From: [personal profile] elsane
WELL this sure sounds like a book I never need to read ever.

The first paragraph has touches that made me really wish I could've written the DWJ book that started with the same premise.

I wish I could get over being surprised about the astounding male failure of imagination when it comes to women, but, alas, I am boggled every time.

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skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
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