|Charles Roger Hargreaves|
Men by Charles Roger Hargreaves
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
T.S. Eliot (from The Hollow Men)
Given that my resolution for 2012 is to read one of the twentieth centuries greatest novel sequences (À la Recherche du Temps Perdu) it seemed appropriate to end this year by reading another institution of twentieth century writing Roger Hargreaves' roman fleuve encompassing men in all their varieties, shapes, appetites and weaknesses.
I decided to finish my 100 book challenge by reading fifteen volumes and I came away having become blissfully lost once again the colourful world contained in these pages. Some volumes express the mundanity of the quotidian life while others soar into the realms of fantasy.
Here we find Meneer Doodsbenauwd repeating "This is the End" and Unser Herr Unmöglich challenging the basis of physics. These old friends have stood up to many rereads in the past and I am glad to report that they still do. Mr. Barus' meeting with the Giant still provokes a change in character that at first seems impossible but there is nothing impossible in this world. When Herra Fyndinn discovers how to make animals laugh I laughed along, aware yet of the fragility of our understanding of the natural world.
As Senhor Saltitão puts on his heavy boots I felt the weight of history, the armies marching to the Somme, the collapse of the domestic under the weight of the military. Bay Akýllý has to face the fact again and again that being the brightest of his generation is not enough to throw light into every corner. Some questions have no answers. Fætter Dagdrøm shows us how the unfettered imagination can overcome the walls of any prison. Anarchy reigns incarnate. Chinese whispers in his own mind leave Monsieur Étourdi a poor sort of Pegasus, his messages mixed and all the more thought provoking for that.
Gubben Nyfiken's curiosity; Don Calladito's journey from the hubbub of urban life to his refuge amoung books; Monsieur Bizarre's square snowballs; Mr Silly painting leaves, and that book of overreaching ambition Mr Tickle, the start of it all.
For more information on Hargreaves' full series go here.