The Underground Man Audio Cassette – Sep 1 2003
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From Library Journal
Through a fictional journal, Jackson constructs a portrait of William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, fifth Duke of Portland (d. 1879), a prodigious eccentric best known for the elaborate network of tunnels he built beneath his estate. The duke is portrayed as a repressed hypochondriac, an old man morbidly curious about the workings of his body and mind. During the months encompassed by the novel, he grows increasingly obsessed with the fleeting bits of memory that intrude upon his ruminations and hint at some horrific, long-buried secret. A prime example of the psychological bent of the contemporary British neo-Gothic novel, this first novel from a British filmmaker and teacher of creative writing explores the darker fringes of consciousness. A subdued, though peculiarly compelling, tale.?Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Jackson bases his novel on stories told about the eccentric fifth duke of Portland, who died in 1879. The title refers to the elaborate network of tunnels the duke had built beneath his Nottinghamshire estate--20 miles of tunnels large enough for him to traverse in a horse-drawn carriage. But the tunnels are only one manifestation of the duke's oddball behavior. He's a hypochondriac with what seems like hundreds of different obsessions. At first, the duke appears to be nothing more than a harmless crackpot, partly because entries from his own journal provide the vehicle for most of the narration. But gradually the duke's account of himself grows more disturbing. Jackson also supplies us with other voices--the whole troop of servants and helpers who respectfully carry out the duke's wishes and serve his meals and keep the estate running while he goes off on his weird tangents. These other points of view help the reader see how truly out of touch with reality the duke is. Jackson constructs his tale with skill, so the duke remains human and moving throughout, despite his madness. Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
His unusual renovations to Welbeck Abbey, the family manor house, were notorious in his day. Employing hundreds of local workers and craftsmen, the Duke constructed a warren of tunnels connecting the house with the stables, the coach road, and even the railway station in town.
Intensely shy, the secretive Duke was rarely seen by most of his staff, who were instructed to ignore him, pretending that he wasn’t there, unless he spoke to them first. When he traveled to London, he rode in a coach through his maze of tunnels, emerging only at the station, where a flat car waited to carry his dark-curtained coach to the city.
This strange nobleman and his mental deterioration are the subjects of The Underground Man, Mick Jackson’s highly-fictionalized study of a singular Victorian character, which was a Booker Prize finalist after the novel’s publication in 1997.
I never would have heard of either the Duke or the novel if I had not been reading Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, which contains an account of Bryson’s visit to Welbeck Abbey, where he attempted, unsuccessfully, to tour what was at the time of his visit a British military training facility. Bryson’s fascination with the Duke and his story led me to search out the novel.
The Underground Man is a work of imaginary fiction, with little reference to the Duke’s actual history, other than his tunneling. It reimagines the Duke’s life from the completion of the tunnels to his death. Although Jackson includes infrequent accounts from the servants, the Duke’s journal provides most of the novel’s content.Read more ›
The novel enfolds in the form of journal entries by the duke himself, and is supplement of various neighbours, servants and service men's accounts of Your Grace. The plot develops around the Duke's observations of the world around him, his somewhat hypochondriac obsession with his body, the steadily degeneration of his mind and his search for something missing in his life. It is drawn to a shocking and somewhat bizarre climax in the end of the novel.
It is beautifully written tragic and comic novel, with a character and plot that won't easily be forgetten.
It is certainly a fascinating and richly detailed account of what would be considered at any time chronic eccentricity bordering on madness - the endless underground tunnels and odd eating habits alone are enough to convince you of this, but what I feel is a small weakness of the novel is that there is simply not enough external observations of the Duke. Those observations by the house-keeper and the footman etc are little gems of insight, but they are too few.
The prose itself is beautiful, and once again invokes the feeling of the time wonderfully. It is a fine novel, well worth a read.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is tripe.
I bought this book when first published because of an interest in Welbeck Abbey. I normally wait for paperback editions to be issued before buying. Read more
one of the most compelling and interesting books i have read in a very long time. the ending was so bizarre and satisfying - never would have even guessed anywhere near to what... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2002 by Lisa
Mick Jackson expertly crafts an intriguing, captivating, and altogether beautifully-represented world within the Duke's mind, resulting in a novel that's extremely enjoyable. Read morePublished on July 15 2002
Just finished reading Mick Jackman's THE UNDERGROUND MAN. He creates a tremendous and quick story to describe the life of the quirky, eccentric Duke of Portland in England in the... Read morePublished on May 27 2002 by Akethan
Jackson's novel about the eccentric Duke of Portland is one of the finest pieces of fiction I have read. Read morePublished on July 20 2001
Mr Jackson has given his main character a startling and original voice--follow along as the Duke ruminates about everything--the stars, his bowels, his parents's tombs, and the... Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2000
I cannot easily recall a narrator by whom I was so engaged and charmed. A lovely look at and through an old man struggling with more than his quite agile, though off-kilter, mind... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2000