Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Troubles by J.G. Farrell *****
I'm not much of one for symbolism in literature--I know it's there, but I hate analyzing things that much. But it's hard to ignore the symbolic people of this book. The Major is the Young Englishman, the one that is reasonable & understands the inequality of living in Ireland at this turbulent time.
Edward Spencer, Angela's father, is Old England personified. He thinks the Catholic majority is barely better than animals, ignorant & useless. He uses them, & is totally surprised when he finds that they have also used him.
Sarah Devlin, a local girl & friend of Angela's, is Ireland. She is Catholic, quick-witted, at turns very charming & very cruel.
The symbolism doesn't stop there-The Majestic itself is dying like the English in Ireland. The vegetation trying to take over the whole building, but there is always a reminder that it was there.
I think the most important thing that has struck me about this book is the way that Ireland back then was populated by two kinds of people who both considered themselves Irish--the Catholic "natives" & the Protestant "usurpers". Usurpers that had been there for over 400 years, yet were still separate. They were a massive part of the society of Ireland for those 400 years, but their role was suddenly & violently removed back in the 1920's.
I see an Ireland that was full of conflict by choice & bigotry. It was, & while I was growing up it still was, nothing better than the conflict of Israel & Palestine. I think because I'm American, that I was raised on the story that the "Old Country" was a wonderful place but for the damned Brits, that I'm surprised by the realization that neither side was "right". Childish, I know, but sometimes it takes awhile to learn the full story.
A most excellent book, with far more to offer than what I can write here. I recommend it to all.