9780688154493

The Underground Man

Jackson, Mick

ISBN 10: 0688154492 / 0-688-15449-2
ISBN 13: 9780688154493
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott was a singularly eccentric man. What sets him apart from other eccentrics is the fact that he had the wealth to indulge his mania to the fullest. Mick Jackson became fascinated by the stories that surrounded his memory--the Duke died in 1879--and began to embroider them with fictional ideas of Jacksons own, and with the tales that local people had passed on to him. Some of the characters names in this book are genuine, as is much of the geography, and indeed some of the most bizarre details. The actual narrative is, however, pure invention, filled not only with the tale of the Duke but also the excitement and discoveries of the age in which he lived, and the mysteries that we may still discover.

This is a curiously moving and often hilarious portrait of the remarkable fifth Duke of Portland, who indulged his fantasies to the fullest and built a vast network of tunnels beneath his estate from which he could secretly escape to the world beyond.


Review:
Mick Jackson makes films. It's no surprise, then, that his first novel, The Underground Man, should be so economically told, the action evoking a mise en scène. The novel takes the form of journal entries interspersed with eyewitness accounts from servants and neighbors. The "Underground Man" portrayed in the novel, William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, the Duke of Portland and a resident of Nottinghamshire, England, is mightily eccentric; the man was real (1800-1879), as was his eccentricity. Historical fact: the Duke commissioned eight tunnels on his estate. Present-day fact: if you walk the estate today, you see the skylights--2' in diameter and 4" thick. But why did he build them?

In the last few days of the Duke's life, eccentricity burgeons; madness follows. The reader learns that his odd view of the world was shaped by early tragedy, the full truth of which is withheld until the last few pages.

The Underground Man is that most delectable blend of fact and fiction, one in which the intriguing details of a real life are richly explored through imagination.

Review

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