so... i finished reading King Lazarus (originally Le Roi miraculé, by Mongo Beti) a couple of days ago in the slum. what to say? some parts were great. the idea behind the title. a Chief who comes back from near death after being baptized... so they call him King Lazarus. but there were times, entire strands of the plot even, that the book didn’t stay together, for me at least.
the character Chris for example and his entire role in the plot. he symbolized the educated, young, rebellious generation... a threat to the colonial status quo. fine. but Beti really didn’t integrate the character into the plot that well. how does Chris affect the interaction between the Priest (Leguen) and the Chief (Mendouga)? that’s the heart of the plot.
anyhow... i’m at a loss for precise words/phrasing. suffice it to say that a few strands in the novel just weren’t woven together well. stayed separate in my mind through the end. maybe i expected Beti to tie things up a little more intricately in the end. he didn’t. the ending just kinda fizzled away. not a very interesting or dramatic dénouement. on to Anthills of the Savanna. i think maybe Chinua Achebe has set the bar too high??? we’ll see...
a quote from the kind note Adam gave me before my posting to Wum... i didn't post the note here, but in hindsight the quote ties in well with the themes in Mongo Beti's books: “The powerful have always been willing to baptize the status quo and name it peace while the impotent have regularly been accused of being troublemakers when all they seek is justice.” –Sam Keen