Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My Name is Legion by A.N. Wilson

This book reminded me of a Dicken's novel: a London setting, a sprawling cast of characters and funny but with a pointed social commentary.

The story centres around a newspaper called The Daily Legion (suffice to say, it is not a force for good). Its proprietor, Lennox Mark, a monstrous glutton of a man, surrounds himself with sycophants and uses his power to influence the government. But he is troubled by a religious experience he had as a young man. He tries to push it away because it is a hindrance in his quest for wealth and power but it keeps breaking though.

His former mentor and present nemesis is a priest, Fr Vivyan Chell. An aristocratic former soldier, he devotes his life to helping the friendless and dispossessed, but he is deeply flawed.

My Name is Legion is a quote from the Gospel of Mark when Jesus confronts a man who is possessed by a demon. 'For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many.' One of the themes of the novel is the fight between good and evil, and how good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. Also that the self we show to the world might not be our true self. This is made explicit in the character of Peter, a troubled, possible schizophrenic boy who has a number of personalities. Peter ricochets between the other characters like a ball in a pinball machine.

The book is an indictment of the casually cruel world of tabloid newspapers. It's about how we often just see what we want to see in other people. It's about temptation and how we sometimes get drawn into situations against out better judgement.

I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to. It is a bit brutal in places (though other people may not find it so, I am very squeamish). There were a couple of characters I couldn't really see the point of. But I thought that it was a very good read.

No comments:

Post a Comment