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Image Men Paperback – 25 Mar 1996
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on 7 July 2009
Long before Peter Mandelson appeared, Priestley penned this masterful satire on the way images are created and lost. Two down-at-heel academics, Cosmo Saltana and Owen Tuby, invent a "science" called Social Imagistics, which they then proceed to sell as a service to anyone with enough cash. Unlike current spin doctors, they make a point of telling the truth quite openly, which has the farcical effect of improving their image. In one scene, they install a big box full of flashing lights in their swanky offices, and when asked if it's a wonderful new computer, reply truthfully that it's a box with flashing lights. It's a nice mixture of Priestley cynicism, Noel Coward farce and some serious messages about the value - or otherwise - of cultivating an image. Politics, supermodels, advertising, academia are all successfully lampooned. A bit of a predictable happy end, but you can't have everything. Originally published as 2 books: Out of Town and London End.
on 30 April 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I must say that I was surprised when a very well-read friend who is a teacher of language and literature recommended this book. That was owing to my prejudice in thinking that J.B.Priestley was more a writer of the 1930s. Although I had read 'Angel Pavement' - not particularly enjoyable for me at the time as I had some affinities with the unfortunate Turgis - and 'The Good Companions', I must admit that I rather categorised Priestley into this era. I was told, however, that 'The Image Men' is remarkably prescient about advertising and the media. As the main action is also set in an imaginary 1960s university, upgraded from a college of advanced technology as was occasionally the pattern, where the main protagonists begin their scheme, it is also an early example of the campus novel. Priestley's conception certainly loses little caste by comparison with 'The History Man', although later novels such as 'Changing Places' have become much slicker and more humorous. What Priestley could do - probably better than those who emulated him - was to handle a large cast of characters. There were maybe a few too many for me to hold in my imagination. But yes, my friend was right, 'The Image Makers' is a good novel, ahead of its time and shows Priestley in a different light from the pipe-smoking old buffer that I had presumed.
on 13 October 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I read this when it was first published and loved it. I thought about it over the years as much of it's content was reflected in real life and was pleased to read it again. It is dated and more of a historical document but older readers would probably like it.
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