Cecily's book reviews

In general I've written reviews of every book I've read since I joined GoodReads (RIP) in May 08, along with one or two I read prior to that. More recent reviews tend to be longer (sometimes a tad too long?). I always carry a book, though I don't get as much time as I'd like to get engrossed - life is busy, but in a good way. Too many of my favourite authors died without writing enough! Apart from reading, and writing about reading, I enjoy Scrabble, good restaurants, woodland, and attending the theatre.

In The Penal Colony

In The Penal Colony - Franz Kafka I reread this before seeing an operatic version, though I had read it several times before.

The plot is grim but simple. A traveller to a tropical penal colony is invited to watch their unique method of execution.

The machine is explained in graphic detail by the officer who has devoted years to its upkeep and worships it almost as much as he worships the previous commander who invented it. The officer is despairing that the new commander is not enlightened enough to give full support to the method and fears the commander wants to abolish it.

Although proud of the moment of enlightenment bestowed just before death, the officer's concern is mechanics, not morality. Was it madness that made him so obsessed, or his obsession that drove him to madness?

The traveller is horrified, but is unsure whether (or how) he should intervene.

The particularly Kafkaesque element is that the condemned man is unsure of his crime, has had no opportunity to defend himself, does not know he is due to be executed and does not speak the language of the officer, traveller or guard.

The more surprising aspect is the fact that followers of the previous commander believe that one day he will "rise again" from his grave...

See my Kafka-related bookshelf for other works by and about Kafka (http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/1199525-cecily?format=html&order=a&shelf=kafka).

See Bruce's excellent review for an interesting angle, seeing this as a metaphor for language and communication: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/142789452

Currently reading

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China MiƩville, Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast
Mervyn Peake