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October 03, 2006

Never Let Me Go: RJK 2

JMK raises a very interesting point (at the end of JMK 1): were the "book report" critics, the ones who "spilled the benas," more or less likely to characterize Never Let Me Go as science fiction?

Because this discussion is essentially a re-reading, there's no need to keep secret about "what happens." And yet, because I want to watch it happen, to see how it happens, I prefer to write about Never Let Me Go as if I didn't know where it's going. I don't know where my own life is going, either - that's not so much a "lesson" of the book as one of the many things about life of which it's a simple but powerful reminder.

That may explain the popularity of the "science fiction" reading of Never Let Me Go. Science fiction has an escapist function; its contrafactuality allows its fans to imagine freedom from at least a few earthbound restraints. But if the cloning of human beings is "science fiction," the restraints are only multiplied. If you focus on the cloning, and on the purpose behind the cloning, the wormwhole that opens up takes you not on a flight to Vega but to a slog through an impenetrable moral morass.

Of course, we haven't reached the cloning yet. We've just had a handful of oddly-accented words ("privileged estate," "completing").

In my next post, I'll advance to the second chapter, with its introductions of "Exchanges" and "Sales," sinister only because they have to be explained - and are not fully explained at all. What are these paupers, with no personal possessions other than the ones for which they barter with their artwork, doing at the "privileged estate" of Hailsham?

(Link to Portico)

Posted by pourover at October 3, 2006 08:05 PM

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