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Amalgamemnonby Christine Brooke-rose
Synopses & Reviews
History and literature seem to be losing ground to the brave new world of electronic media and technology, and battle lines are being drawn between the humanities and technology, the first world and the third world, women and men. Narrator Mira Enketei erases those boundaries in her punning monologue, blurring the texts of Herodotus with the callers to a talk-radio program, and blending contemporary history with ancient: fairy-tale and literal/invented people (the kidnappers of capitalism, a girl-warrior from Somalia, a pop singer, a political writer), connected by an elaborate mock-genealogy stretching back to the Greek gods, move in and out of each other's stories. The narrator sometimes sees herself as Cassandra, condemned by Apollo to prophesize but never to be believed, enslaved by Agamemnon after the fall of Troy. Brooke-Rose amalgamates ancient literature with modern crises to produce a powerful novel about the future of culture.
A woman about to lose her job as a professor of literature and history delivers a passionate, witty, and word-mad monologue in this inventive novel, which was called "brilliant" (The Listener), "dazzling" (The Guardian), "elegant, rueful and witty" (The Observer) upon its original publication in England in 1984.
This sort of metafiction can start like a rocket, then fizzle, but Christine Brooke-Rose’s novel keeps gaining momentum, blazes with wit and regains for fiction some of the territory lost to critics in recent raids. On all counts it deserves the three stars from Orion’s belt.About what it feels like to be a word-addict—worse, a writing addict—in the brave new world of communications technology.[Amalgamemnon] will surely feature in the literary histories when Booker contenders have faded away. Only 140 pages, but informed by a delight in language and wordplay that attracts the...more pejorative label 'experimental' (authors should not display too much inventiveness and intelligence or be influenced by French modes if British). An ideal gift for readers who like to keep their wits about them.[T]otally fascinating. . . . [An] immensely rich book. . . . Amalgamemnon is a brilliant example of its author's thesis, proving the eternal creative flexibility of language and the restorative vitality of one person's cultural memory.
History and literature seem to be losing ground in the contemporary world of electronic media, and battle lines have been drawn between the humanities and technology, the first world and the third, women and men. Narrator Mira Enketei erases these boundaries in a punning monologue that blends the contemporary with the historical, and in which she sees herself as Cassandra, condemned by Apollo to prophesy but never to be believed, enslaved by Agamemnon after the fall of Troy. Here, Brooke-Rose amalgamates ancient literature and modern anxieties to produce a powerful novel about our future.
About the Author
Christine Brooke-Rose, formerly a professor at the Université de Paris, and now retired, lives in France. She is the author of several works of literary criticism and a number of novels, including Amalgamemnon and Xorander.
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