Juliet (julietk) wrote,

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Book review: Morality Play, Barry Unsworth

Time to pick up the 101 things again (though I think with about 8 months to go it is a safe bet that they aren't all going to happen. Ah well.). Anyway: one of them is about reading & reviewing books, so I got Morality Play, by Barry Unsworth (recommended by thekumquat), out of the library yesterday, and sat up on the roof this afternoon to read it. (I like it up on the roof - Elizabeth Bay is one of the highest bits of Sydney, so there's a great view, and it's lovely and quiet.)

I found the actual story (a group of mediaeval travelling players who are caught up in the aftermath of a murder, lots of stuff about justice and power and so on; don't want to say more for fear of spoilers) less interesting than the background stuff. Specifically the idea of the move from acting morality plays to using more modern material - the ideas about what 'acting' could and could not convey, and the beginnings of change in that. Also the ideas about one's relationship to meaning, and whether meaning is given to you, or can be self-constructed. Barry Unsworth also makes some fairly unsubtle points about gender relations.

It's fairly short, and it's a decent enough read, I guess, but I wasn't really that impressed. Faintly surprised that it won the Booker (in 1992) - I certainly wouldn't have rated it as prize-winning. I found it a little clunky and shallow. (And homophobic, in a fairly thoughtless "stock Evil Character" way.) Having said that, it wasn't a total waste of 1.5 hrs or anything :-)

ION: I am trying to switch to a Dvorak keyboard, a project which is progressing, but it's bloody frustrating. So I shall stop typing now.
Tags: 101 things, books
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