Lord Horror

Lord Horror

David Britton

Language: English

Pages: 161

ISBN: 0861301242

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

It is undeniable, of course, that Lord Horror deals with unpleasant subject-matter: race-hatred; the glamour of Fascism; the psychology of repression and oppression. The author's method of dealing with these subjects is one whose roots are to be found in the sarcastic fantasies of the French and English Decadent Movements and in the theatricality of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi. The novel's central characters—Lord Horror and the Führer of whom he is in search—are grotesques, and their adventures constitute a phantasmagorical black comedy. Their actions, attitudes and aspirations are satirically exaggerated to the point of ludicrous caricature. The artistry of this method is, alas, bound to fall on stony ground when such a book is read (or briefly glanced at) by men who are so wilfully and stubbornly stupid that they flatly refuse to recognise irony. One would have thought that there was little room for crude literalism in contemplating David Britton's Hitler—a quaintly pathetic figure quietly pursuing his research in the philosophy of Schopenhauer while his unheeded masculinity, symbolised by the incredibly expansive Old Shatterhand, entertains extremely inconvenient delusions of grandeur—but one should never underestimate the capacity which the censorious mind has for crudity of perception.

The character of Lord Horror derives, ultimately, from the notorious "traitor" William Joyce, who broadcast German propaganda to the British people on Joseph Goebbels' behalf throughout the years of World War II. Joyce's exaggeratdely aristocratic English accent encouraged his listeners to refer to him as "Lord Haw-Haw", a joke which quickly became a significant element of the folklore of the war. (The ability to turn an authentically sinister source of anxiety into irreverent comedy is, of course, an important method of psychological defence—but not, one must assume, a method which could make any sense to the kind of people who sit as magistrates in British crown courts.) Joyce had lived in England and Ireland for many years before the outbreak of World War II and had been active in Oswald Mosley's Fascist organization; he had, moreover, fraudulently obtained a British passport. The fact remains, however, that he was not British at all—he was an American citizen—and his defection to Germany in 1939 was not, technically, an act of treason. Joyce was a repulsive man with repulsive ideas, who had done his level best to harm the people of the United Kingdom, but the eagerness of the British to hang him—which they did on 3 January 1946—undeniably represents a triumph of censorious zeal over more refined ideals of Justice. It would, of course, be impolite publicly to entertain the proposition that things have not changed much in the course of the last half-century.

David Britton's Lord Horror is a character who proudly wears the glamour of Fascism, and proudly retains the prejudices and aspirations of Nazism, but this should not be taken, even by the meanest intellect, to imply that he is held up by the author as a suitable role-model. The purpose of horror is to horrify; the characterization of Lord Horror is calculated to excite alarm and anxiety; the plot in which he figures endeavours to achieve revelation by means of shock tactics. Lord Horror sets out to be a horror story, an alarmist fantasy, and a provocatively shocking text; it succeeds. The narrative is sometimes very funny, and sometimes utterly repulsive, and seeks by means of such huge swings of mood to enhance its overall effect; it succeeds. The imagery of the story borrows on the one hand from comic-strip art and on the other from the philosophical Weltanshauung of Schopenhauer, attempting through such odd juxtapositions to heighten the reader's sense of the awful absurdity of the polite veneer which overlies the politics of genocide; it succeeds. Lord Horror is no literary confection; it is not a work of gentle escapism. It is, however, a book worth reading, and a book whose preservation is worth fighting for.



















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