THGTTG: DOUGLAS ADAMS Wednesday 26 October, 2011

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Boundlessly imaginative. Full of keen insight. Wonderfully funny. Quintessentially English yet incredibly ‘other’. Yes, it’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and it’s marvellous.

It is quite difficult for a work to be rapturously in love yet venomously despise the same thing. The thing in question here is Humanity. Douglas Adams was acutely aware of the absurdity of our lives. His freewheeling tour of life, the universe and everything pokes a finger in the eye of all of our moribund little lives with great humour and affection.  You could write these books off as silly nonsense. You would be right. However, these books are necessarily silly in response to the silly things that we hold so dear (money, digital watches, shoes).

If you know nothing about this story please do avoid the (very terrible) hollywood movie version and instead pick up the book. I won’t give too much away but let’s just say that through a combination of increasingly bizarre circumstances we find our ‘hero’ Arthur Dent being whisked away from his leaf to tour the freaks, geeks and ne’erdowells of the galaxy. ¬†During his travels he will learn that the towel is his most important posession, have dinner at the end of the universe, befriend a paranoid android and battle killer robots from the planet krikkit.

Although broadly, Douglas Adams, was teasing humanity he was more narrowly teasing the English. Arthur Dent is typically English and the ridiculous nature of our national character is shown into sharp relief when Arthur is confronted with the many odd predicaments he finds himself in.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy also exists as a (fabulous) radio series and a (shonky but charming) BBC TV series but I’d recommend starting with the book first. If you love that you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the other things. Don’t panic.

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