Saturday, 21 January 2012


I found this book by James Bradley ( his blog is also noteworthy) on my grandmother's shelf and after a year of only reading "proper" literature ( as in the books that form part of top 100 lists, but are tedious to get through), this was a good read. I like books that transport me far away from my reality, into another time and another country, where the mindset and the circumstances are vastly different from my own.

The Resurrectionist follows the life of Gabriel Swift, who is orphaned at a young age and as a teenager starts working for an anatomist. Through various choices he is fired and "descends into a hell partly of his own making and the violence of the London underworld" ( read the full description and listen to three readings by the author on Faber & Faber) . The story is also loosely based on the Burke and Hare murders, where two Irishmen killed 17 people and sold the bodies to Dr Robert Knox.

What I liked most was Bradley's preoccupation with how our identities are shaped and how the fragility of life is often ignored. We take living for granted, without considering that it all has to end, sooner or later.

"They are such little things, these lives of ours; cheap got, cheap lost, mere flickers against the ever dark, brief shadows on a wall. This life no more substantial than breath, a light which fills the chambers of our bodies, and is gone."

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