Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alan Bennett - The Uncommon Reader

I love Alan Bennett's writings. His recent article in the London Review of Books, defending libraries in the face of the cuts is a wonderful piece of polemic, that sums up this great writer.

So I finally got around to reading The Uncommon Reader, I was excited, ready to be carried away with it. Everyone else has read this short novel, so I won't go into detail. The plot is straightforward but slightly surreal - the Queen gets switched on to reading following an accidentally encounter with a mobile library (oddly enough, it gets cut eventually, like the ones in Manchester have). She rapidly gets sucked into the world of literature to the exclusion of much else. Her royal duties suffer, her relationships with staff and family suffer and the nation, it seems, don't like it.

Sadly, it just didn't quite work for me. Maybe I am too much of a revolutionary to think that the Queen is like this. Maybe I just don't do absurd. Maybe I didn't like the choice of books she reads. There's nothing wrong with the book, just not to my taste. And given my love for Alan Bennett's writings, that was a surprise. There certainly are some clever bits - the way the establishment organises to undermine the Queen's new love of writing is well written, but she gets her revenge and.... well I shouldn't give the end away.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I hadn't read the book- but don't mind the end being revealed. Would also have found enduring reign very annoying. Apologies for response to post on anarchism (if you got it)- I did not feel it was very fair to what I find to be a very rich tradition of philosophical thought- but I should learn 'anger management' and appreciate that an admiration of Trotsky is a good thing in a depressing social world. I could not belong to the SWP but if your revolution ever comes I hope it goes well. Best wishes and good luck with your political activity. You do read fast. John.

Resolute Reader said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the comments. Apologies, I had missed your comment on the Anarchism article... it should now have been published. Believe me, that is not the worst tone I might have expected! Thanks for the thoughts.