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Elephant and Kangaroo by T. H. White

Elephant and Kangaroo (1947)

by T. H. White

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1122107,804 (2.77)5



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  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
I never thought I would give such a low rating to a TH White book, especially a humorous fantasy, which earns 1/2 point from me without any further claim to quality at all. The Archangel Michael comes down a chimney in a cottage in Ireland and tells the inhabitants to build an Ark for the second Flood. Despite the cover on one of the paperbacks, what Michael looks like, beyond the presence of a nimbus, is never given, nor are any words recorded by him (or her, according to Mrs. O'Callaghan). The remainder of the book primarily follows Mr. White (no first name given that I recall), the former atheist, and his plans and efforts to build an Ark out of the corrugated barn, and the obstacles that arise, primarily from the absolute stupidity and meanness of the Irish. And therein lies the problem. For about half the book, the author's fine use of the English language and sense of humor carries things forward. Mr. White is a comic figure, constantly frustrated, constantly distracted by minor details, but still capable of moving the project forward. The synergistic dysfunctionality of Mrs. O'Calaghan and her husband is nuanced and funny. There's even an exciting adventure at the end when the Ark is swept down the river. But by then it has become clear to even this dense reader that the author's primary intent was to devise as many ways to have every single Irish character behave as idiotically, lazily, cowardly, and murderously as possible. Innocent humans and animals die left and right at the hands of the Irish in this story. The only reason Mr. White escapes death (several times) at the hands of the Irish is because they can't make ammunition that works and they can't hit the broad side of a barn. I've heard this book promoted as satire but the only target is the Irish -- not business, not clergy, not the religious, not the poor, not the rich, not the military, but all Irish except perhaps those that emigrated. That's not satire any longer, but simple bigotry. ( )
2 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Jun 1, 2010 |
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