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History in action without the tedious bits
on 16 September 2016
This allegorisation of the state of Paris before the French Revolution is a treat for the imagination, especially for those who enjoy history in action without all the tedious bits.
I liked the puzzling actions of some of the characters which allowed me to think my own thoughts, rather than their motives being too obvious. I also loved Miller's writing, particularly the dialogue which is witty and at times snappy.
The Valenciennois miners, who come to work in the cemetery to clear all the bones from the deep pits, exude a half-menacing, half-spiritual presence, which is beautifully shown, not told. The lack of understanding the petit-bourgeois had for the circumstances, experiences and outlook of the down-trodden, is a lovely underlying aspect of the allegory.
The idea that those who resist change (for whatever reason) are punished by those who have to bring about change, offers food for thought. Change and loss are important themes and the book and perhaps points to a moral (if there is one) that avoiding change for too long is disastrous.
Other readers will draw their own alternative conclusions.
All in all an enjoyable, intriguing and very worthwhile read.