Freitag, 11. Januar 2008

Home, sweet home.

So, today I am home again. And I start to feel like a whole person again, even if it is just for three days. Anyways, I have only reposts today, one from New Years Day, when I sat for two hours in the kitchen, drinking coffee and watching Stargate Atlantis because I had that on the computer, and one from this afternoon including the review for "English Passengers" by Matthew Kneale:


It is strange what you realize when you watch Stargate Atlantis. Or better what I realize. I tend to think about what kind of person I would be in that universe. And then I regret that this univere isn't real because maybe I would do something great, something that makes a difference there. In this real world it seems impossible. But it has prompted me to think about what kind of difference I could make here, what else I could learn to do something sensible and useful here. I haven't come up with an answer to that yet. I mean what meaningful thing is there to do, if you are not a scientist, and the only thing that you really enjoy spending your time and energy on is reading books and watching films and TV series? I don't even dare mentioning the thought that writing or being involved in making these serials might be the answer because that idea seems so far out. And it is some pretty heavy thinking on the morning... well noon of New Year's Day, drinking coffee and having a hangover and wondering whether the rather not that well start into this year is to be seen as an omen.


I have 44 minutes of battery power left, and as I somehow can't just spend all the time reading, let's use them for writing. First of all, the toilets at Berlin Ostbahhof are some puzzle to confound, to quote an aboriginee character from "English Passengers". Second of all, I'm still mystified by the fact that Polish train waggons have window seats without windows. I got one with a lot of window this time, though, but I still find it funny.

So something completely different: the short review of English Passengers.

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale is yet another retro-Victorian novel, and then again it isn't. First of all it differs in that it has a multi-perspective narration. The narrator shifts and changes, sometimes we have letters and their responses and sometimes accounts of settlers, convicts, or aboriginals. There remain four main story-tellers, though. There is Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley, a Manxman, who stumbles into journeying with three Englishmen to the other end of the world to find the Garden of Eden. Reverend Wilson and Dr. Potter are two of these Englishmen who already during the journey manage to bicker at each other and to cause an endless struggle on board of the ship between religion and science. And there is Peevay, whose story begins thirty-seven years earlier when his aboriginal mother is raped by his white father, a convict escaped to a small island off the coast of Tasmania, or back then still Van Diemen's Land. He tells the story of the settling of Tasmania, the near-extinction of all aboriginals of the island, and his fight to gain his mother's love.

It is impossible to put all the different aspects of the book into such a short summary, and it wouldn't do the book justice. Matthew Kneale succeeds in retelling the history of the settling on Tasmania and touches upon British colonialism, scientific discourse, racist theories, theology, the genocide of the indigenous people, but also their view of things, their way of living and the changes that the English in their arrogance imposed upon their lives. It also adresses the convict colonies and the dominant practices of bettering their inmates. Reading the accounts of the English characters of the book one repeatedly realizes that they really got it all wrong. Englishness is associated with arrogance, narcicism, stupidity and madness. And the wonderful and extremely funny narrative of Captain Kewley that glues the bits and pieces of the story together is just a joy to read. And he so reminded me of Malcolm Reynolds. ;-)

8 of 10 swineys