Thursday, 12 March 2015

Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015

Terry Pratchett is dead. Not that it is much of a chock. He has long been open about his struggles with Alzheimer and the disease has finally claimed his life (before he had the chance to end it himself, as he wished to). He was notoriously unafraid of dying, with Death being a major recurring and oddly sympathetic character in his books.

Pratchett was the foremost satirical writer of our age, using his fantasy creation of Discworld to comment on our society and it's follies. Targets included, but were not limited to, sexism (Equal Rites, in which the unexamined gender inequalities of traditional fantasy are finally examined), capitalism (Going Postal, with it's furious denunciation of privatization), militarism and jingoism (Jingo) and religious fundamentalism (Small Gods, which sees such fanaticism as antithetical to real religion).

As his friend and collaborator Neil Gaiman noted, Pratchett beneath his generous humour, was a writer driven by rage. He was writing, as A.S Byatt noted, "about us", not about anything fantastic.
While Pratchett could as every human being make mistakes (as someone who has a disability, his enthusiasm for euthanasia, while understandable with his situation, left me somewhat cold.) and his satire could at times be unduly hectoring, it was a rage that was driven by compassion for the suffering and put to use with such humour that  his voice will be missed. Farewell, Terry. You may leave this life, but your books will remain with us.

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