Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chapter 11

Apologies for the recent fits of self-pity, and the gap in transmission. I'm surprised how difficult this is: if I can write about Milton and Beckett and Swift (which I did half a lifetime ago, plausibly enough to get a half-decent degree), why can't I cope with the rather less challenging prose of Mr Brown? I suppose when you're looking at Literature (with a big L) you know (or at least assume) that there's going to be something significant at the end of the rainbow. When you're dealing with this sort of thing, there are no such guarantees. Is it worth it?

OK, Chapter 11. By now, it's pretty clear that the enigmatic doodles scrawled by the renowned curator are going to be pretty significant. Or are they? Sophie Neveu's first contribution the the debate seems to be that the first of them is some sort of abstruse mathematical joke, "like taking the words of a famous poem and shuffling them at random to see if anyone recognizes what all the words have in common" (something I'm sure all of us do on a regular basis).

So, according to Sophie, it's the way one cryptographer signals to another that what he's written should not be taken too seriously: the equivalent of putting everything between quotation marks. It's also a bit like one of those disclaimers that promises that all the characters are invented; the mirror image of Brown's own promise that everything in his book is true.

Just as Silas's back story is being fleshed out, so is that of Bezu Fache, although a running grudge with the US Embassy is less of an excuse than being holed up in an Andorran prison for 12 years. And we start to suspect that Le Taureau may not be as smart as he makes out. Falling for the I-need-to-go-wee-wee routine, indeed.

One thing in Brown's favour: as appropriate to a novel about the sacred feminine, the lead female seems at the moment to be the only person who isn't a) borderline retarded or b) barmy.


Blogger Spinsterella said...

How come nobody noticed that Sophie hasn't left the building?

They're not very good, are they?

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the old "slinking off for a wee" trick was the first point I groaned out loud reading it.

12:51 pm  

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