For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Tuesday 8 March 2011

a little on Louis de Bernieres ("part philosopher, part baffoon")

As much as I love


Vouis Vuitton Fall 2009

this post is about another Louis altogether. De Bernieres, in fact. I caught his talk in the lit fest on Friday.
We had to study Captain Corelli's Mandolin* for A level, but I fell in love and just couldn't shake it off after that. Innumerable reads later and it's still a favourite. My fondness for Drousoula made me seek out Birds Without Wings too; a hefty loaf of a novel. I plan to re-read it at Easter.

Louis talked about his writing and read from his latest offering; Notwithstanding. It was great to hear his prose read the way he imagined it in his head. What I like about De Bernieres' fiction is his convincing voice, and how he embraces eccentricity. A mixed narrative can be a challenge to follow, but it's interesting to explore the threads that link characters together. He spoke about his use of comedy and tragedy too, how the contrast adds power to both, and that this is something that you can trace back to Shakespeare, and even Socrates.

It was useful to hear him talk. From his anecdotes a sense of whimsy came across, which seemed familiar. I could see how much of himself had gone into his work. Kindly, he signed my battered copy of Corelli. Literary genius or not, he was then just a fifty-something in a candy striped shirt, whose pet rook "fell in love and went away to make cakes".

* The Greek island of Cephalonia, where the novel is set, is also where Paul Chuckle (of Chuckle Brothers fame) had a motorcycle accident. He swerved to avoid a herd of goats and their shepard. I like to think this was Alekkos.

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