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Review: The Theban Plays & The Glamour

January 15, 2010

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Pages: 168

Ah, Sophocles master of Tragedy, you sure knew how to make everything turn to shit. The Theban Plays, consisting of Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, involve the infamous Oedipus (he of kill father, marry mother fame).

Looking at the plays as one entire trilogy, the overwhelming theme of you cannot escape fate prevails. These characters are not so much entities but rather, pieces to be moved into place. Oedipus cannot escape from his destiny, much as Creon cannot in the third. Yet, there is a semblance of realism in the plays; the characters do behave in a slightly more naturalistic way, the setting and story is concentrated on a lower plane rather than an astral. Stylistically, but not thematically, the plays are different from modern day in that there a lack in anything approaching scene setting. Apart from a few nondescript words the setting is bare bones, making it a wonderful opportunity for people to approach the play from different angles. The Brecht version of Antigone comes to mind here, the play is ripe for transposing the action into different settings and even adapting it too different situations.

Publisher: Gollancz

Pages: 240

If you’ve ever read a Christopher Priest novel, you’ll know that he has a habit of not only hoodwinking you but doing it so well you don’t know whether you’re supposed to read the book upside down. I suppose spoilers are in warning here, although I’ll try and be as general as I can.

I’m not too sure what I think of The Glamour, on one hand I enjoyed the total ambiguity of it. Who can we trust? Can we trust anyone? Is it even real? Yet, on the other hand, it really hits the ol’ “I want answers!” part of my brain. The book will not be for everyone because it is slippery, like trying to hold onto sand. What you thought was a character or what their motivations were are ripped from you. I enjoyed reading Sue’s part (although was it even her) because I began to believe her, I believed that she could turn invisible but after reading it through a different perspective it just seemed delusional. Each subsequent perspective changes the novel.

The ending is the biggest wtf in the novel. It’s either a brilliant and shocking move or a two fingers up to the reader. It totally changes the entire book, and we have to question everything that has come before. You even have to question whether it’s real or not, do these characters even exist, is it just a book? Is it the book you’re holding?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2010 12:58 am

    Glad to see you’re back blogging again! I thought you were done with it. I’m pretty sure I have The Theban Plays on my TBR list. I haven’t heard of Priest before so I’m definitely going to check him out. Any author whose skill is described as “you don’t know whether you’re supposed to read the book upside down” is worth a shot.

    • January 18, 2010 12:33 am

      no no, I just was extremely busy and couldn’t be bothered. I’m trying to get back into the hang of things.

      Priest is good, I’d suggest going for The Affirmation. He wrote The Prestige which, as you probably know, was adapted as a film.

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