Any Human Heart?


I didn't watch the dramatisation of this book on TV recently nor is it a book I would have purchased for many reasons, but it was a Christmas gift and I felt I should give it a go. One the whole I was glad I did... the colour of the characterisations, the narrative drive and overall quality of the writing was excellent, and it offers an interesting snapshot of the 20th century through the eratic, and at times erotic, journal entries of Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, a single lifeline woven through significant political and artistic events of that timeframe... without the whimsical, saccharine coated faux folk wisdom of a Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button...
The diary format is well used... There is a sense of a slightly different voice as the years go by... the format of the entries also changes, and I suppose it was interestiing to read this book which purports to be the private thoughts of a lesser known public figure, while I've been ruminating about the "public journal" function of my own blog.
However, those who have referred to this book in print and on internet forums as an "ordinary life" clearly live on a different planet from me and a lot of the other inhabitants of the UK/world. Many of the references to authors and artists were to people whose names I didn't recognise, resulting in many trips to wikipedia to check whether they were real people or Boyd's literary inventions. Maybe that is a sign of my philistinism or a sign of the rarified world in which Boyd and his creation exists. The picaresque hero, Logan Mountstuart, or LMS as he is referred to in "editorial" comments and footnotes, is part of that priveleged elite that has dominated politics (and the arts) in Britain throughout the past century (and there seems no sign of that changing in the early years of the 21st) simply by dint of their birth and schooling...
And that is one of the reasons that I wouldn't have chosen this book for myself, and am no great lover of Evelyn Waugh, who in many ways seems the literary model for LMS. At the end of the day any interest I had in the life of LMS was simply to "see how it all turns out." I have no real point of reference for his priveleged and largely hedonistic lifestyle. There was only passing reference to spiritual matters, and that was more about the form rather than the substance of faith and religion, but I suppose that is a fair reflection of many people's attitude to matters of faith right across the social divide. Most of the book is about the pursuit of fame, fortune and females... Without spoiling the read for you, his selfishness is ameliorated with age... and ultimately, the big lesson of his life seems that for all his achievements and romantic conquests real relationships are what ultimately matter.
Is that what is really true of any human heart?

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