Well i've just finished the book and I would have to agree with the opinions offered by my esteemed collegues here on PaddyWop. Humans are selfish bags of water whose sole aim in life is to live longer and more lavishly than his neighbour, and if that means being cruel or even taking a life, we find a way to justify it by convincing ourselves that the meaning, and the reason for living is surviving and anything we do in the name of survival is alright. I got the impression while reading that Kosinski felt that humans are the bane of the earth and they have even corrupted the natural world; such as the story of how Lekh took revenge on a stork which ultimately led to its death. Man is fundamentally cruel; in his experiences in the countryside Kosinski came across people who did'nt want to aspire to any 'superman' status, instead he is content to just suvive while cloaking himself in superstition as a means of enhancing some lives while condeming others to misery. Kosinski highlighted that, especially in times of war, everything is decay and decaying and those who live in those times are either decaying or feeding off the decay. On a less depressing note, however, I also think there was a somewhat positive tone, especially toward the end. The episode when he jumped under trains and the feeling he got from that plus his feelings about revenge, were interpreted by me as saying that the best revenge to get on anyone, any god even life itslef, is imply to live and enjoy life and to make it fulfilling.
I'm not sure whether I would consider it to be a great book, not on the surface anyway, but it did raise some interesting philosophical questions. Nor would I consider it to be simply an example of twisted Holocaust-ponro because any book that can provoke the type of complex thought that this book obviously did is worthy of a better description. I was wondering, though what conclusions people drew on the superstition and religion in the book? Are they one in the same?
Finally I would also like to commend Paddy on the most fitting and beautiful eulogy he wrote for the Nanny's below. Ne'er a more fitting wrtiten send off could anyone hope for, nor was there ever anyone more fitting than Nanny.