Are Pratchett's Discworld novels a comment on society?

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Are Pratchett's Discworld novels a comment on society?

Postby Tenthegg » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:29 pm

Terry Pratchett has often been said to be 'guilty of literature', which books would be most appropriate as social commentaries, can anyone think of examples of books or passages in books which mirror our own world or have something to say about reality?
'Luck is my middle name,' said Rincewind, Indistinctly. 'Mind you, my first name is Bad.'
Tenthegg
New member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:42 am
Location: Durham

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:32 pm

Too many to sort out properly is the quick answer - back soonish when I have :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10572
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Postby LilMaibe » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:42 pm

Small Gods for example when you want it obvious and yet entertaining.
UA when you want it heavy-handed and blunt-trauma.inducing
LilMaibe
 

Postby DaveC » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:01 pm

Welcome to the site Tentheegg! :D

Is this an essay question?

The easy answer is yes even in the less obvious ones, you get in-sewer-ants in Colour of Magic. :)
Adventures of a Film Geek - My Blog

Check out my short film!

"Dude, this thing claims I have mail. Dude, now I'm reading it."
This Is...
User avatar
DaveC
Member
 
Posts: 3797
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Portishead, UK

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:06 pm

Welcome to the site, Tenthegg! :)

Terry's books are famous for their social commentary. It's one of the reasons he's been compared to such writers as Dickens, Swift and Twain.

Apart from the first two books - which are largely to do with parody of the Fantasy genre, just about all of the other books are making some comment or another.

One of the reasons his books are so popular is that he writes about the human condition, even if the humans he's writing about are trolls, dwarfs, vampires or goblins.

Have you read any of the books? I'd say, by your username, you are at least familiar with the streets of Ankh-Morpork. :D
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28923
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby stripy_tie » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:09 pm

Almost all of them have some form of a commentary on something, this is just a very vague list and there's a lot more to each book.

Small Gods- religion and belief
Hogfather- belief and christmas and human concepts
Sam Vimes books- the police and the nature of justice
The witches- tend to focus on stories and fairytales and how humans relate to them and give them power and meaning

then there's the ones that focus on one subject and pick it apart into tiny peices and then put it back to together again in strange and awesome ways like

Maskerade- opera
Soul Music - music
wintersmith- winter and autumn and the change of seasons in general
Moving pictures - cinema and it's effect on people and the nature of fame to a lesser extent

This is a pretty poor list but you get the idea.
It's all about the sun master, white snow and red blood and the sun. Always has been.
User avatar
stripy_tie
Member
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:38 am
Location: Guernsey, Land of Sea and Granite

Postby Tenthegg » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:22 pm

DaveC wrote:Welcome to the site Tentheegg! :D

Is this an essay question?

The easy answer is yes even in the less obvious ones, you get in-sewer-ants in Colour of Magic. :)


I am looking at doing a dissertation studying citizenship in a selection of Pratchett's Discworld novels, looking at how his writing mirrors our own world and might shine a light on what it is to be a citizen, but at the moment I'm just not sure which novels to choose, I need around 3 or 4.

I thought I'd look at 'Equal rites' because it has the central theme of equality and a form of activism in a girl wanting to be a wizard and thought one of the watch books would be a good start but wasn't too sure where to go from there.
'Luck is my middle name,' said Rincewind, Indistinctly. 'Mind you, my first name is Bad.'
Tenthegg
New member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:42 am
Location: Durham

Postby pip » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:29 pm

Tenthegg wrote:
DaveC wrote:Welcome to the site Tentheegg! :D

Is this an essay question?

The easy answer is yes even in the less obvious ones, you get in-sewer-ants in Colour of Magic. :)


I am looking at doing a dissertation studying citizenship in a selection of Pratchett's Discworld novels, looking at how his writing mirrors our own world and might shine a light on what it is to be a citizen, but at the moment I'm just not sure which novels to choose, I need around 3 or 4.

I thought I'd look at 'Equal rites' because it has the central theme of equality and a form of activism in a girl wanting to be a wizard and thought one of the watch books would be a good start but wasn't too sure where to go from there.


sticking with the female thing why not look at Monstrous Regiment.
The whole role of the woman is questioned in the book as well as a major questioning of religion and nobility. Definitely falls into your spectrum. :D
'There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.'
Ray Bradbury (RIP)
User avatar
pip
Member
 
Posts: 9385
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:20 am
Location: KILDARE

Postby Tenthegg » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:47 pm

stripy_tie wrote:Almost all of them have some form of a commentary on something, this is just a very vague list and there's a lot more to each book.

Small Gods- religion and belief
Hogfather- belief and christmas and human concepts
Sam Vimes books- the police and the nature of justice
The witches- tend to focus on stories and fairytales and how humans relate to them and give them power and meaning

then there's the ones that focus on one subject and pick it apart into tiny peices and then put it back to together again in strange and awesome ways like

Maskerade- opera
Soul Music - music
wintersmith- winter and autumn and the change of seasons in general
Moving pictures - cinema and it's effect on people and the nature of fame to a lesser extent

This is a pretty poor list but you get the idea.


Thanks, this has given me a good overview and somewhere to start from.
'Luck is my middle name,' said Rincewind, Indistinctly. 'Mind you, my first name is Bad.'
Tenthegg
New member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:42 am
Location: Durham

Postby Bouncy Castle » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:53 pm

Dont' forget Going Postal and Making Money.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

The rest of us are a bit crap.
User avatar
Bouncy Castle
Member
 
Posts: 12021
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:08 pm
Location: London

Postby pip » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:55 pm

Too late bouncy. we sorted it. :lol:
'There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.'
Ray Bradbury (RIP)
User avatar
pip
Member
 
Posts: 9385
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:20 am
Location: KILDARE

Postby raisindot » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:57 pm

PARTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD

Tenthegg wrote:I am looking at doing a dissertation studying citizenship in a selection of Pratchett's Discworld novels, looking at how his writing mirrors our own world and might shine a light on what it is to be a citizen, but at the moment I'm just not sure which novels to choose, I need around 3 or 4.


If I were choosing 3 or 4 novels, I'd choose:

The Truth. Because it examines the role of free speech, liberty and personal responsibility in a society that hasn't fully embraced these concepts, and also delves into issues of racial superiority and multi-culturalism.

Small Gods. Because it gets to the very heart of the battle between faith and natural philosophy, and examines how these systems of thinking affect the creation of cultures, laws, and power structures.

Monstrous Regiment: Not because it's a great book, but because it examines how xenophobia, repression, and the cult of personality can lead nations to war and other acts of national suicide.

Night Watch: Consider it because it examines the dynamics of popular uprisings of ordinary citizens against repressive societies and how different power groups (policemen, aristocrats, private militia) choose sides in the struggle.
raisindot
Member
 
Posts: 3207
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:28 pm
Location: Boston, MA USA

Postby Tenthegg » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:25 pm

raisindot wrote:PARTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD

Tenthegg wrote:I am looking at doing a dissertation studying citizenship in a selection of Pratchett's Discworld novels, looking at how his writing mirrors our own world and might shine a light on what it is to be a citizen, but at the moment I'm just not sure which novels to choose, I need around 3 or 4.


If I were choosing 3 or 4 novels, I'd choose:

The Truth. Because it examines the role of free speech, liberty and personal responsibility in a society that hasn't fully embraced these concepts, and also delves into issues of racial superiority and multi-culturalism.

Small Gods. Because it gets to the very heart of the battle between faith and natural philosophy, and examines how these systems of thinking affect the creation of cultures, laws, and power structures.

Monstrous Regiment: Not because it's a great book, but because it examines how xenophobia, repression, and the cult of personality can lead nations to war and other acts of national suicide.

Night Watch: Consider it because it examines the dynamics of popular uprisings of ordinary citizens against repressive societies and how different power groups (policemen, aristocrats, private militia) choose sides in the struggle.


Thanks, this is really useful. It seems like I could almost pick any book and find something interesting to write about in my dissertation.
'Luck is my middle name,' said Rincewind, Indistinctly. 'Mind you, my first name is Bad.'
Tenthegg
New member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:42 am
Location: Durham

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:39 pm

Tenthegg wrote:
Thanks, this is really useful. It seems like I could almost pick any book and find something interesting to write about in my dissertation.
Pretty much so. :wink:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28923
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Penfold » Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:21 pm

I'm a bit surprised that no one's mentioned "Jingo" with its attitudes towards war, racism, and (mis)conceptions of foreign cultures. :)

Oh, and welcome as well Tenthegg! :D
The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.
User avatar
Penfold
Member
 
Posts: 7180
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:59 am
Location: Worthing

Next

Return to Discworld novels

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests