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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Word: 'The Thirty-Nine Steps'

Today I finished a book from 'the pile', and am very pleased with myself, as the pile has not been looking any more inviting the longer it sits there.

'The Thirty-Nine Steps' by John Buchan is an adventure novel, despite the murder that opens the story. The main character, Richard Hannay, must escape from the police and the 'bad guys' in order to get information about a certain global threat to the authorities.

I used to be an avid fan of the Hardy Boys adventure/mystery books, and so I found this story rather disappointing for its lack of mystery - the tension of the story is sustained by surprises.

Another sore point is that Richard Hannay has no personality! I can understand that the writer may have reasoned that a blank slate of a man can easily be overwritten with the reader's own personality, but it seems so ridiculous for a character to have a complete lack of defining characteristics!
Hannay is just a generic adventurous everyman who just happens to remember the right skills at the moment that they need to be used. The sense of reality in terms of people and relationships is only provided through the random (and mostly very helpful) strangers he meets along the way.

'The Thirty-Nine Steps' was, I felt, a very forgettable book. I think the only pieces of the story that caught in my mind were the ideas about acting and disguises, e.g.:'A fool tries to look different: a clever man looks the same and IS different.''If you are playing a part, you will never keep it up unless you convince yourself that you are it.'

So I can finally take another book out of the pile, content in the knowledge that I will never desire to read it again!


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