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Alan Moore's Jerusalem

 
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:44 am    Post subject: Alan Moore's Jerusalem Reply with quote

I'm of the opinion that Alan Moore is a genius. I've held this opinion for long before I picked up his thousand plus page magnum opus in which, for I believe only the second time in his long and productive career, he abandons his characteristic format, the graphic novel, for a straightforward prose work.

Though how anything Moore ever does could be described as 'straightforward' beats me and to be sure Jerusalem is no exception. The first thing that has to be said in respect of this book is best put in the form of a quote. Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring! This is not a book to be embarked upon lightly. I'm about a third into the book, nearing the end of the first of the three "book's" that comprise the volume. In this part, each of the long chapters tells a different story (actually more of a description of the daily activity - sort of Ulyssesesque) of, on the face of it, unrelated characters. The chapters span a thousand plus year time period, running forth and back as they see fit, with the only defining commonality being that they are all centered around the city of Northampton, and specifically an area of rundown poverty therein know as The Burroughs.

I'm told that each of the three books has a different feel to it (the second having been compared to "an Enid Blyton story on speed" which should be interesting) but it would not be unfair to say that the first book is definitely not written with the purpose of raising one's spirits. The 'vibe' is one of poverty, suffering and hardship, the almost permanent conditions of the inhabitants of The Burroughs, but the unrelenting onslaught of this is ameliorated by a 'lightness of being' (and I use the latter word with hidden meaning) behind the whole, injected in as it were (appropriately enough given some of the content) via the supernatural/fantasy elements of the work - which indeed we have come to expect from any Alan Moore work. But what makes the work a combined effort - ie yours as well as Moore's - is the fact that in order to get anything from it, it requires you to put in the spadework! Moore is not going to hold your hand here. Either you must be possessed with a memory of the photographic variety (I'm not) or you will have to take notes (I am) - or you will simply have to plow on and hope it all falls together in the end. As an example of this, I've said how each chapter is on the face of it an unrelated account of the perambulations of different characters spread over a thousand year period in Northampton - and so they are - but incidents and connections abound - the same location described in different periods, acts that are mirrored across huge expanses of time, single lines from a chapter that re-emerge with significance three chapters later. And there are multitudes of such connections. (And even when you do make the connections, the metaphors used are not spelled out; these require teasing out of themselves.) Hence, not trusting my own memory to be up to the task, I decided that it would be necessary to take a systematic approach and put the work in so I could reap the reward of a full understanding. This, I think, is the only way I can tackle such a kaleidoscope of a book, and it seems to be working. I'm building up a picture of what is happening, gaining a depth of insight that a surface skimming could not allow for (unless you are posessed of truly great powers of recall) and the effort seems to be worth it. I'm not going to give a running commentary on this book - it is simply too complex to do so - but suffice to say it's a mix of fantasy, biography, philosophy and surrealism of the type that only a genius or a madman could produce, and Moore might be either!

I'll come back at the end and tell you how it went!

Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am agog with anticipation.

(Ok, maybe not quite agog, but I didn't know he had any prose work. Sounds a bit like Edward Rutherfurd's London on the face of it...

(Oh, that Jerusalem...the one you were going to build in England's green and pleasant land? Very Happy )

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I think that is actually in there somewhere Av. One of the chapters concerns an eighth century priest, visiting "Hamptun [the medieval name for where Northampton now stands, I assume] looking for "the centre of England", where he has been instructed to deliver a holy icon, this given to him by a strange character who he finds he cannot refuse in [you guessed it] Jerusalem!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've finished the first of the three "books" and while it has been interesting and intelligent, it's not as inspired as I'd hoped on the basis of his comic book work. The various chapters did eventually begin to fall into place and an underlying story begin to emerge from the disparate chapters. There is apparently a significant autobiographical angle to the work and it would be interesting to know which parts are based on Moore family history. Much bleak stuff therein no doubt.

The second part is, as mentioned above, of a different form, and I'm just getting into it; it's a bit surreal and 'Blake' in its form (William that is), this time however the chapters running in straight narrative progression following one of the characters we met in the first book.

Am taking a brief break from it to read some physics, following which will take up the reins again before I loose the thread of what is going on.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

God...Blake or Finnegan's Wake? Very Happy

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an odd book Av (what else would you expect from Moore) and one that paints a huge canvass with a sort of series of connecting themes running through it. Madness, slavery, the richness of poverty and the poverty of riches, how glory is found in the meanest of places. But do I recommend it? Umm.... I'm simply not sure I could be that brave with someone else's time.
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....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Caveat noted. Very Happy

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