Monday, May 5, 2008

The real-life Adam Lang?

Since the publication of Robert Harris’s The Ghost (Select Editions volume 297), much ink has been spilled about the similarities between former British prime minister Tony Blair (left) and Harris’s character Adam Lang, also an ex–prime minister. Writers in Slate, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the London Times have all contributed their opinions on the subject.

It should be noted that Harris has known Tony Blair personally since 1992. But despite the personal connection, Harris insists that The Ghost is not a roman à clef. He even points to some strong dissimilarities between Blair and Lang. Quoted in the Times, he says, “People are, of course, at liberty to draw parallels, but the prime minister in the book is a fictional character.” Indeed, the book’s epigraph comes from a prefatory note to the novel Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: “I am not I: thou art not he or she: they are not they.”

Those who are most interested in drawing parallels will be waiting with bated breath for the publication of Tony Blair’s as-yet-untitled real-life memoir, plans for which were announced in October 2007. According to Blair’s literary representative, publication is “at least a couple of years away.”

Regardless of the Blair/Lang comparisons, reviewers have been careful to praise The Ghost on its own merits as a page-turning and suspenseful work of fiction. Finally—an opinion I can vote for!


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