“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story”
Monstrous Regiment was my first introduction to Discworld and the books of Terry Pratchett. It was just the kind of book that I like to read, a novel which contained a well-structured plot, a good story, a relatable main character, complex and memorable side characters, a fast pace that kept the pages turning as though by themselves and a narrative that satirised society and was chockful of philosophical insights that made one
want to pause, and reflect. It was storytelling at its best.
“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment
I still remember the pleasure that the novel brought me when I read it for the first time, an experience that would repeat each time I took up a new book by Pratchett.
“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”
― Terry Pratchett
The responses to a controversial article in The Guardian questioning Pratchett’s literary merit raise some interesting insights into the question about what constitutes pure literature. Some of the articles that I enjoyed reading in this context:
In the above article, Annie Coral Demosthenous analyses the complexity of Pratchett’s prose, referring to the delightful wordplay that is characteristic of his novels and his absolute command over language and style which allows him to effectively break the rules of punctuation, much like what Joyce does in the last chapter of Ulysses, so that ‘a multitude of episodic narratives fit together like scenes in a film, jumping between characters, location and time without losing the narrative thread’. She mentions how his work transcends genre fiction as it ‘does not reproduce genre stereotypes’ and rather ‘he sets them up to be deconstructed’, as Austen does with the gothic novel when she satirized it in Northanger Abbey.
“In theory it was, around now, Literature. Susan hated Literature. She’d much prefer to read a good book.”
― Terry Pratchett, Soul Music
Again, genre-based books require very little effort on the part of the reader while Pratchett’s novels demand thought and focus from the reader. If anything, the language, allusions, satire, philosophy and humour are so rich in these books that they merit re-reading.
“Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time
I have only read a handful of the delightful Discworld novels. Some of them are among my favourite books of all time, all of them are highly entertaining and thought-provoking, and I will certainly be reading more from this favourite author.
“Words have always had the power to change the world.”
― Terry Pratchett