January Books 3) 1610

3) 1610: A Sundial in a Grave by Mary Gentle.

Let’s be quite clear. Mary Gentle’s Ash: A Secret History is one of the best genre books I have read. When I discovered, shortly before Christmas, that she had a new novel out, I went out and bought 1610: A Sundial in a Grave at huge expense in hardback from the massively over-priced Waterstone’s in the middle of Brussels.

Well, I should have trusted John Clute rather than Cheryl Morgan. 1610 is a good book, all right, a fascinating and somewhat kinky look at the year of the title and the possibilities of changing history. But of course any fictional scenario involving deterministic prediction of the future has to actually find a way of averting said deterministic prediction to make the plot interesting; I have never seen that done convincingly and this is no exception. I felt I recognised too many elements from both Ash and the only other Mary Gentle book I’ve read, The Architecture of Desire (also set in a seventeenth century that never was – cf Pepys) without really much new being added. And basically it is too long. A good book, but you should wait for the paperback.

One thought on “January Books 3) 1610

  1. it does not appear that his faults were those of the bully

    I didn’t say he was, but that he probably associated with bullies, which you don’t really deny, though you give reasons why he should be forgiven. Again, allowances are made for Oxford that you’re not prepared to make for Shakespeare.

    And why the apologia for Oxford anyway? Why is it important that he be excused all his faults? Because you’re propounding a black-and-white view of the world in which moral character is intimately connected with the ability to write great prose. And I just don’t believe that the world is actually like that.

    But according to Shapiro autobiography didn’t apply anyway. Humankind hadn’t reached the stage of evolution of remembering their own lives as material for art

    I haven’t read Shapiro, but from what I’ve seen others say, I doubt that is actually his point. I certainly would not say that autobiography cannot be a source of material for art. But the Oxfordian thesis seems to depend on the idea that autobiography is the only source of material for art, and that autobiographical material can only be expressed in crude and obvious fashion. And that seems self-evidently false.

    there is no more autobiographical play ever written than Hamlet.

    Not even The Glass Menagerie?

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