Behold the Man Paperback
Part of the S.F. Masterworks series
Meet Karl Glogauer, time traveller and unlikely Messiah. When he finds himself in Palestine in the year 29AD he is shocked to meet the man known as Jesus Christ - a drooling idiot, hiding in the shadows of the carpenter's shop in Nazareth.
But if he is not capable of fulfilling his historical role, then who will take his place?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 128 pages, illustrations
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 11/11/1999
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9781857988482
- Paperback from £6.85
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by JonArnold
It was my final year of primary school that I was first encouraged to question the Bible - in retrospect, a brave and mad thing for a teacher in a Church-in-Wales school to do. He provided a prosaic explanation for miracles such as feeding the five thousand or turning water into wine, and then letting us come up with similar explanations for how miracles may have been enacted. In retrospect it's probably the healthiest religious education lesson I ever had, teaching me to question religion's precepts.Behold the Man comes from a similar perspective. On the surface it's highly blasphemous, putting an ordinary man in the stories where Jesus conventionally fits, and the depiction of Mary and Jesus seems deliberate provocation. And from that point of view it's similar to Monty Python's Life of Brian with the surface blasphemy being cover for deeper blasphemy, being a wider critique of organised religion and the myths that grow up around them, although the Pythons swapped Behold the Man's righteous anger for sharp jokes. Glogauer isn't particularly sympathetic as a character, being antisocial and driving everyone away from him by combining a messianic complex with a tendency to self pity and lack of direction One of the 'Angry Young Men' contemporary with the book being written, but without anywhere to direct his anger. The combination of an unsympathetic lead, spare prose and an author's righteous anger means the book always feels an edgy and uncomfortable read, particularly when Glogauer realises he's fulfilling his historical role. The tropes of a time traveller finding himself playing out an allotted role have become well worn, this was written at a time when they were fresher, and such books weren't quite as plentiful. The reader might sniff where events are leading relatively early on, but it's only in the last third that Moorcock turns it into a tragedy. Being sparing with it means the story's not mawkishly exploitative as it could easily have been, and doesn't come across as simply trading on the central premise.This will certainly offend churchgoing Christians, maybe even committed folk of other religions. Otherwise it's a sharply drawn looks at how myths can accrete almost simply by the power of belief, how what originally happened is almost irrelevant. Not an easy read, but extraordinary and thought provoking.
Review by jeff235
At first, I thought it would be annoying continually switching back and forth between 28 A.D. and all of the various flashbacks of Karl's life, but they were well done and I actually found them enjoyable. We get to know Karl, a troubled young man with a difficult past, gradually over the course of the story thanks to these flashbacks. Especially good were the conversations between Karl and Monica. They felt natural and realistic to me. But above all, this short book had an emotional depth which is rare among the science fiction books I have read. It made a definite impact on me, left me different than I was before. What greater praise is there, really?I normally like a writing style which is more lyrical, almost poetic. Here, the writing is a bit stark, but it obviously didn't prevent this book from leaving its mark on me. Highly recommended to open-minded readers. I look forward to reading more by Michael Moorcock.