The Minds of Others

Ready to read!

(No spoilers!)

Reading ‘The Casual Vacancy’ has (thus far – I’m not finished) made me think about how people’s minds work. As a longtime hardcore fan of children’s literature and, in more recent years, the works of such authors as Dodie Smith and Agatha Christie, I am used to a certain type of thinking. The opening pages were quite jarring to me, as everyone – everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s thoughts veer towards the unkind and coarse or selfish with only a few exceptions.

Rather naively, this shocked me. Of course this is a work of fiction and contains heightened characteristics of human nature. I completely understand that, but it has made me think about thoughts and motives. Do people really have such dark thoughts when faces with a sudden death? Thoughts which have absolutely nothing to do with actual death?

At this point I should admit that I am a ruthless self-analyser. I question every thought I have and every action I take. Part of this just a trait of an anxious personality. The idea of causing anyone else unhappiness on purpose is horrifying to me and I’m deeply convinced that something terrible will happen if I ever make anyone suffer, intentionally or not. On the whole, though, I don’t have nasty thoughts about people. I’m usually too busy being worried about something.

If someone had asked me sixty pages in to describe the book, I would have said that it’s a grotesque depiction of the less attractive aspects of human nature. It sounds strong, but it really did catch me quite off-guard. The topic at the start of the book is sudden death, and how everyone copes or does not cope with it. It’s a subject that I have some experience with, and am therefore interested in. Pagford’s inhabitants are each self-obsessed, their thoughts are for themselves.

It’s a good and very different exercise to be presented with a group of characters with whom I don’t immediately sympathise. I’m looking forward to unwinding the rest of the book.

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2 thoughts on “The Minds of Others

  1. I haven't read The Casual Vacancy yet, but what you wrote reminded me of a passage in Women in Love where a community reacts to a tragic accident. I remember reading it when I was younger and being shocked at the children's hope that this would mean that they may have a day off school. And some of the adults in the community "enjoying" the excitement it.Looking forward to reading it and preparing to be shocked!

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