Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Four top books based on myths

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, which won all three of the UK's most prestigious prizes for non-fiction - the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award - and the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. In 2017 she published her first novel Peculiar Ground, which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Hughes-Hallett's new book is Fabulous, a collection of short stories.

At the Guardian she tagged some of the best books based on myths, including:
Another free spirit, but a happier one, is Dougal Douglas (or perhaps Douglas Dougal – nothing about him, including his name, is pin-downable) the curly haired charmer who makes his disruptive appearance in a suburban small business in Muriel Spark’s scintillating comic take on the Faust legend, The Ballad of Peckham Rye. On Dougal’s forehead there are two bumps – traces, he explains, of his sawn-off horns. Is he teasing? Impossible to tell. Certainly Spark is. She hints that Dougal is the devil, but what he brings is not damnation, but ridicule. Sleazy office romances, venal crime, and all the absurd trivia of working life are raked over in this modern fable. Spark’s wit is acidic, but her story sets the dreary lives of secretaries and salesmen glittering, touched by the uncanny charisma of an early 60s Pan.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Douglas Dougal from The Ballad of Peckham Rye is among John Mullan's ten best devils in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue