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Discworld lives! Discworld lives!
by Alexander Mikhaylov
2008-05-10 10:09:30
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Nowadays Terry Pratchett stands among a crowd of contemporary authors as a proverbial giant. Some say he is the only contemporary English language writer who merits serious attention and some dismiss him as a merely good entertainer. In any case, people tend to talk and write a great deal about his works. What makes him and his books so special?

Terry Pratchett’s creations are somewhat deceptive, although I do not think they are deceptive on purpose. It is rather their overall quality that makes them such an easy read that might deceive you. At first, you may perceive them only as a fantasy, full of ironic humor and cleverly written but fantasy nevertheless, until you start to notice their true depth, structure and, above all, countless innuendoes.

Indeed, every book from the Discworld series is based on several planes. It reminds me of a tricky puzzle, or a game of uncovering the one little surprise inside of the other. Soon you realize that here you not only deal with cleverness, humor and wit, but also with something much more serious by far. And before all, Terry Pratchett’s books are terribly referential.

For instance, those who are familiar with classic literature might easily notice that Wyrd Sisters is based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, or Night Watch is a clever replay of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, and so forth. And it is only the beginning.

I think the social satire that he employs so brilliantly might well be compared with such great works as Jonathan Swift's Gulliver’s Travels, although Terry Pratchett is far more subtle than his illustrious predecessor who also enjoyed poking fun at his contemporaries, albeit with a different outcome.

Speaking further of referential material, I was somewhat astonished when, while reading his books, I suddenly realized that he constantly uses stuff from the Theory of Management, Economy, Social Science and God only knows what. Going Postal, for example, might very well be used as a schoolbook for those who study Marketing, Leadership and HR Management, or at least for those who wish to learn something about the ways modern corporations actually function.

Yet another of many brilliant qualities of his works is his mastery of dialogue, peppered with a Scottish sense of humor to such an extent that it reminds me of an excellent Scotch. However, what else would you expect from skeptically-minded Libertarian, huh? His books must be as good as a good drink, huh?

I must say it is gratifying that he enjoys fame. At least, it makes perfect sense: he deserves it. Really, the mere fact that excellent books, such as Terry Pratchett’s, are being published fills me with hope. Maybe good literature will survive through yet another century.

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