Mostly Harmless (Anglais) Poche – 1 février 2000
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“It is Mr. Adams’s genius to hurl readers into a plot that seems to go everywhere and nowhere, then suddenly drop the pieces into place, click, click, click, like tumblers in a lock. . . . Delightful.”—Baltimore Sun
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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From the Hardcover edition.
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The history of the Galaxy has got a little muddled, for a number of reasons: partly because those who are trying to keep track of it have got a little muddled, but also because some very muddling things have been happening anyway. Lire la première page
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Adams did do an impressive job of bringing things together in the end-characters and situations not only from this novel itself but from the start of the whole Hitchhiker's saga (think Vogons). Why a pesky number of loose threads were allowed to hang out, though, while so much work went into resolving other looming storylines, is beyond me and did much to mar the satisfaction I got from the rather abrupt, unfortunate conclusion. I am particularly bothered by the fact that Fenchurch, a character important enough for Adams to have written the entire fourth novel about, is summarily dismissed with little thought and even little grief from Arthur Dent himself. I should not complain about the way Adams chose to end this delightful series of novels of his own imaginative creation, yet I cannot help feeling disappointed if not a little cheated by the way in which everything ended. All in all, while I did enjoy parts of this book immensely, I would rather have ended things with the happy note of So Long, and Thanks For all the Fish, and be left free to imagine what kinds of messes Ford and Arthur might be getting themselves into somewhere in the universe and wondering what really ever happened to Trillian and Zaphod.
It's an interesting hotchpotch of action (and cutting between various cliff-hanger scenes), philosophy, stand-up comic perspectives of the everyday, domestic sit-com, satirical SF, and Douglas' own pleasure in blithely hurling his characters through six impossible things before breakfast. The plot is surprisingly coherent although occasionally incidental.
I still would almost be surprised if Adams didn't cite Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 as a thematic and stylistic influence. Here he lets his sensible and considerate astrologer state the theme that it doesn't matter so much what you believe in (`truth' is irrelevant), but you need something as a structure, a lens, to enable you to live satisfactorily. Adams unsurprisingly explains this much better:
"I know that astrology isn't a science ... of course it isn't. It's just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis ... The rules just kind of got there. They don't make any kind of sense except in terms of themselves. But when you start to exercise those rules, all sorts of processes start to happen and you start to find out all sorts of stuff about people. In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing the indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people."
Yet another author struggles to reconcile loss of faith in major, particularly religious, concepts of truth with the inner conviction that there are important, good and beautiful things all around - that it's not all just meaningless.
And it is a struggle, as in the climax (spoiler warning) Trillian explains to her traumatised daughter who desperately wants to know who she is, where her home is, where she `fits':
This is not your home ... You don't have one. We none of us have one. Hardly anyone has one anymore. The missing ship I was just talking about. The people of that ship don't have a home. They don't know where they are from. The don't even have any memory of who they are or what they are for. The are very lost and very confused and very frightened.
Yeah, ha ha, good one Douglas - hardly Wodehouse light humour. Human condition anyone? I wonder if Adams and Pratchett self-consciously have wanted to be taken `seriously'? I could see that it could be frustrating for them to be dismissed as merely lightweight because they're so popular. They often contain more articulate thought than works by more academic writers, and shouldn't be seen as lesser merely because they happen to also be very good at amusing and entertaining (quite the opposite). That being said, their books should also come with a flyleaf caveat: "Warning - strong post-modern agenda permeates the following jokes".