I had to dig around to find a copy of The Vivisector and finally got one. My local library didn’t have a copy. The copy I’ve got must be an original. Details are: Published in 1970 by Jonathan Cape Ltd, London. It’s the hardback with a plain orange cover.
I didn’t know whether I’d enjoy it or not but willing to give it a go and now I’m looking forward to each instalment of my reading.
I’m up to about the middle of chapter 2 and they’re quite long chapters so this commentary is only up to the Courtney’s trip to Europe. The brief is to have read chapters 1-3 by today, but I’ll have to catch up on the weekend.
Points of note to me:
- Hurtle Duffield Courtney is an interesting six year old. He’s comes across as quite arrogant for his age. Others participating in the readers’ group have mentioned his cruelty but cruel wouldn’t be the word I would use. Arrogant, yes, as I mentioned above, and curious, and direct as children are.
- He is also a bit weird and creepy. He keeps talking about brushing up against women and girls, implying that his character is older than he is.
‘She would look at him as though he was sick. Till he brushed up against her. He had learnt that this worked with his mother, and with Lena and the girls. He had never tried it out on his father.’ (p 15)
I can’t think of any six year old I know exploring their sexuality beyond having a bit of play with their willie.
- Having said that, I like his creativeness and how he interprets things as he sees them quite differently from most people.
‘If he ever painted Sybil Gibbons he would show her pale-green, vegetable flesh tortured by moonlight and hot sheets, her lips slightly open as he sa they would have to be.’ (p. 129)
He says himself: ‘I don’t want to be like everyone else.’ (p. 87)
- The use of the second person? ‘You this and you that,’ is quite distracting. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to this style as I haven’t encountered it before. Even when I hear people use ‘you’ when they’re obviously talking about themselves annoys me.
- I think if I met Maman in real life she and I wouldn’t be friends. She strikes me as being too needy and a bit shallow.
- And Rhoda. Not quite sure if I feel sorry for her or not. It must be hard for her to have Hurtle arrive as part of the family and realise that he’s their favourite.