Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Okay, since Jukkahoo prompted me...

Has anyone read William Beckford's "Vathek"? It's not very long - I have a Four Square paperback, with 122 pages - and I thought I'd read it in a jiffy. No way, man! Maybe I've been reading too much vintage hardboiled past ten years and can't get along with anything else, but, hey, this guy writes stuffed prose. I'll quote:

"The Caliph [Vathek] happened at this instant to be engaged in an apartment by no means adapted to the reception of embassies, though adorned with a certain magnificence, not only to render it agreeable, but also because he resorted to it frequently, and stayed a considerable time together."

"This dreadful device was executed with so much dexterity, that the boy, who was approaching him, remained unconscious of the fate of his forerunner; and as to the spectators, the shades of evening, together with their distance, precluded them from perceiving any object distinctly."

What was I thinking?! The book is from the 1780's. There were no hardboiled stylists pitching clear prose at the time.

Maybe I was thinking that Beckford could be close to Daniel Defoe (one of my heroes), who is almost as lucid as can be. But Beckford belongs to a different school altogether. He's supposed to have written this in three days, but I don't buy that. You can't come up with those sentences if you're writing that fast.

The story is wonderful, though (from what I can make of it). Vathek, the Caliph, knows everything in the world, but wants more. He meets a weird being, looking like a man, who says he holds secrets Vathek has no way of knowing. First, he insists that 500 young boys are offered to him as a sacrifice (see the above sentence), and then he vanishes and leaves Vathek in a state of confusion. Mohamet is one of the characters - well, actually he appears in only one scene (so far) saying to the djinns (or whatever) that Vathek deserves his faith.

I should read the dumb-downed version if there was one. I've read the Finnish translation some 15 years ago, but it's from the early twenties and very rare and I have never seen it for sale. At the time I got it via the inter-library loan. Now that I'm supposed to write about Vathek for the horror reference book, I thought I'd better read the original text.

(By the way, the Kipling incident Jukkahoo was referring to was about the same reference book we are editing. One of the contributors sent his entry for Kipling, but with no bibliography at all. I had to do it myself. Elina asked why I just didn't ask the guy to do it, but I said that I couldn't trust him anymore with an important task such as this.)


Kauto is walking! He goes on for several steps - of course he's keeping hold from something, chairs or a sofa etc. Now he's pushing the chair (keeping a plastic lemon in his other hand) and stopping only because he bumped into me.


I was also going to write about the closing of the candy factory here in Turku, but now it's time to take a shower. Z movies: more later. Beware of the "Devil Monster"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Kauto! Capable lad, indeed.