joi, 24 noiembrie 2022

The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the magical Rates of Exchange - 10 out of 10


The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the magical Rates of Exchange

10 out of 10



The History Man fits the description offered by its author in the marvelous To The Hermitage where he insists on the advantage that the literary world has over the physical one, for in the former we meet characters that are more compelling, wiser, more vivid, effervescent than the ones we see outside, or on television (think Trump, Bolsanaro and supporters), the events in the art world are more captivating, engaging (unless we are speaking of Kafka or Beckett, Bradbury suggests with humor) and we can get into this spectacular, divine world from our room, or even our bed and to mix in the Umberto eco take on  reading ‘the reader has five thousand lives while the one who does not read has just the one…reading is eternity backwards’ then we have an ‘eggsplosive’ (this is me talking like Cordelia from The Russian Girl by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis) mix and we can reach Shangri La from home…


Having said that The History Man is exhilarating, one must also mention that the hero is just as much an anti-hero and in the present, it would be interesting to see how audiences will react to him, for he is the epitome of the dominant male, taking advantage of his students, in the case of Felicity, he sleeps with her, and as for a male challenger, he does all he can to have the poor fellow ejected from the university, failing his course and refusing to give him access to his classes, The History Man cheats on his wife, has sex with at least two other teachers and furthermore, he seems to be an extreme leftist

The History Man was called the ‘definitive campus novel and one of the most influential in the 1970s’, only one has to consider how this will be viewed today by some of the Woke people, who will rush to cancel it maybe, notwithstanding the fact that Howard kirk is not created and presented to the readers as a model to follow, on the contrary, he is very much like all of us, plagued by shortcomings and endowed with quite a few skills and abilities, he is charming to the point where he is pressed to have sex with his student, when Felicity has trouble in her lesbian affair, her partner getting rather violent, she wants help from her professor, in the form of sex, and however clear it is that he should have never entered such an immoral bond, we are talking about flawed human beings (that is personages) and in his distorted frame of mind he felt he was doing the girl a service, at her bequest.


Then we have to consider the background, the story takes place around 1967, a period when the Flower Power movement, make love not war mantra were at their zenith, and the standards were very different (not that sleeping with students has ever been the norm, or acceptable, unless we are going into Taliban territory) and I am thinking of our own early days, when we were told the man has to be an alpha male, dominant, and there is story that has been told many times over here, with this fellow who has the girl at his place, or maybe hers, and then starts to undress her, and when she asks what is he doing, he says nothing…


He will keep saying that, all the way through, taking all clothes off and pushing towards copulation, while assuring his ‘partner’ that ‘nothing’ is happening and there is no reason to worry, because this was 'his role’, to sooth, lie, and follow his goal with tenacity, while she has to act innocent, just like in another scenario that was so often seen in practice as to be made a joke, with Russian protagonists, and a bit of a soviet twist in there, depicting them as red commies, perverse in their stupid ideology…Ivan is chasing after Natasha, calling for her, Natasha, and she is rushing away, while he keeps calling

Natasha, Natasha, and she is thinking to herself, if I slow down or stop, he will think I am a tramp, so I better stumble somehow, and when she does, Ivan says ‘Natasha, davai cotizatia’, or something like ‘give me the party card payment’, we could argue much more over this topic, looking into authoritarianism and the vicious influence it had over people, making males ever more brutal, and women trying to adapt to an atmosphere where oppression was the rule, but we are supposed to discuss The History Man and not Ceausescu and the monstrous regime and its effect on the people here…


Hey, if this note is not perfect, it is not because of my failures – to quote the biggest idiot in the world, Trump, ‘I have a very big brain’, the fact that it is not working well is another matter – but the regime that has traumatized me and the rest of the population, except for the ‘more equal of animals at the farm’…Howard Kirk is a leftist and as such, he has a small chance to become one of my favorite characters, indeed, when I first read The History Man I was not so thrilled, considering the commie experience we had to go through here, no human of the far left would be a dear figure, and Howard is a rebel, and an extremist…

His wife, Barbara, has affairs, so in this sense, their quite wide open marital bond is not unbalanced, he is not ‘cheating’ on her, they both look for pleasure, fulfilment, connections outside their home –and quite often within it – with the exception of the student, the other women that go to bed (or on the floor or elsewhere) with The History Man do so because they want to, though one of them could be seduced by his charm and she is handicapped by her inexperience and naiveté in this matter.


Where Howard Kirk is ghastly is in his rapport with a male student who is not a Marxist, but a conservative type (which his teacher would call ‘anal’) who is not coping well with his class, and whereas Felicity is offered emotional, sexual support, the male is expelled from class, told he will fail and thrown out of University altogether, which is a clear show of injustice and the young man tries to get back, investigates the philandering professor and takes…pictures, proving what he does with several women, the promiscuity and immoral coitus with a student who gets high grades, for her intimacy maybe (to be fair, readers know that at least initially, Howard has opposed the approach, and finds Felicity pushing, she is the one willing to be a baby sitter, accepting when Barbara suggests she stays over the weekend, when she is gone to London – Barbara I mean – to fuck with an actor and the professor is not really attracted to the student, he has another main target in mind)


Unlike Howard, I was a promoter of the revolution against the Marxists, and have done my small part for the overthrow of Ceausescu, as told here:

Niciun comentariu:

Trimiteți un comentariu