Thursday, 28 July 2011

Borders, margins, transitions

I’ve finally decided what I want this blog to be about. Borders, margins and transitions.

Why these three concepts?

I’ve always liked the ideas of borders, where one people and one culture bump up against one another, for good or ill. My favourite place in the world is Menton, on the French/Italian border. It is a rich mixture of the two cultures, plus many other, more transient ones. You can walk from the classic calm of Menton to the noise and exuberance of Ventimiglia. And, if you like, you can even travel west to the other world of Monaco.

Menton, looking towards the Italian border

I also like the idea of margins and the people who live on them. TheRoman Empirein the west was not destroyed by the Huns from the distant steppe but by the Germanic people who lived on the margins of the Empire and knew its ways. The British were expelled fromIndianot by the Rajahs or by the ordinary people but by Indians such as Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah, men who had been educated by the British system and were typical of neither the British nor the Indian population.

And I love the idea of transition. I think this is because, at the age of nine, my family moved from London to Chesterfield in the English midlands. It was only 150 miles away but if felt like emigrating. And it felt like going back in time, 100 years in some cases, 800 years in others. I’ll post a story later today which captures this.

I also think that in the strange frontier land where any two disciplines connect with each other is often where the most creative and original ideas come from.

I have come to realise that my novels are also about these themes. In ‘The Lost King: Resistance’, Edgar, the legitimate heir to the throne is marginalised by William the Conqueror and theNormans. The country begins a time of massive upheaval and transition. Edgar flees north toScotland. Much of The Wasteland is set in the borders between the south and north ofEngland. In this novel, Edgar also goes through a period of transition, coming of age in troubled times.

I will finish now because I am writing the last chapter of my novel which is set in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the last years of the twelfth century. Not surprisingly, as I write it, I discover that this is also a novel of borders, margins and transition.

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