Sunday, April 14, 2013

Frederick Forsyth and the day of the talking point

Frederick Forsyth famously wrote The Day of the Jackal in thirty-five days and, he says, the book was published without changes. Assuming my fortieth-anniversary edition of the 1971 novel was produced from the original printing plates or prepared from Forsyth's own typescript, the book shows occasional signs of haste: minor punctuation errors, an infelicitous word choice or two, and, on Page 286, Columbia for Colombia, though that might reflect English usage common in 1971.

But these don't rise even to the level of annoyances; that's how highly I think of the novel, which I'll probably have finished reading before I put up my next post.

One unexpected linguistic touch is Forsyth's use of talking point, which I did not know had entered the language as early as 1971, though he uses it somewhat differently from the way American political handlers and reporters do: "The President's instructions were that it must not become a press sensation and public talking point."

Forsyth is fine at handling the rivalries and enmities among French security officials, and his lampooning of the most pampered or self-seeking of them is over the top but great fun to read.

And now, the Jackal has just eaten a magnificent meal of speckled river trout grilled on a wood fire and tournedos broiled over charcoal with fennel and thyme. Let me join him, why don't you, before he trots off to shoot the president.
***
Carlos the Jackal got his nickname because a copy of Forsyth's novel is said to have been found near his belongings. What other real people have been named or nicknamed for characters from crime or spy fiction?
***
N.B. My apologies to readers who read transcript in the first version of this post's opening paragraph. I had typed, as I intended to do, typescript, but auto-correct overrode my correct choice. That's one curse Frederick Forsyth did not have to worry about in 1971.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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12 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

I never read the book, but I did enjoy the movie.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Try the book. Among other things, it might pique your interest in Algeria, as it did mine. Nothing in the book takes place there and the country is rarely mentioned, but the plot to kill De Gaulle was hatched by military officers and others enraged by what they say as De Gaulle's dismemberment of France by granting Algeria its independence. And that,in turns, opens the way to many questions still pertinent today.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Look how many of the books, movies, and television shows about Carlos include the name Jackal. That's a lot of advertising for Forsyth's book. For years he probably cackled every time a new one appeared.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I know that there's a current - or perhaps redundant, by now - Irish criminal boss known as 'The Penguin'
(I don't know what exactly is his connection with the character variously played by Burgess Meredith and Danny De Vito)
And I'm not sure have I read 'Jackal', but the original film is tautly directed by Fred Zinneman, of 'High Noon' fame.

And I'd remembered that about 'Carlos The Jackal'

btw, just received the first of the two Richard Starks I ordered, - 'Flashfire'. I'll probably read it soon.
btw2, have you read any Borges?
(or featured him in these pages?)

April 15, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

...and 'Jackal' piqued my interest in Algeria, also - as did the film 'The Battle of Algiers - which caused me to read a history of that war.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I could easily imagine a criminal boss who's short and waddles being funned "The Penguin" in the press, and hating the name.

I've read a story or two by Borges, probably from "The Aleph," but I have not written about him here.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read Yasmina Khadra's Brahim Llob novels, set in Algiers, and I've been listened to a fair amount of rock/pop/rai music by Franco-Algerian musicians. And I've (and written about) Camus here. All this points me in the direction of Algeria, which seems in several respects to anticipate any number of current issues: the West's relations with Islam, colonialism, torture, and, as illuminated by "The Day of the Jackal," the possibility of deadly splits within a country.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

...and Camus also, of course, caused me to be interested in Algeria
(and also in the special nature of soccer goalkeepers)

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My recent reading of Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano also pointed me in the direction of Camus on keeping goal. He says Camus had a practical reason for choosing that position: As a child, Camus was poor. Playing goal meant less wear and tear on the shoes that his family could ill afford.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I can dig it.
Had he anything to say about Wenders' 'The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty'?

April 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Neither about the movie nor about Peter Handke's novel, on which the movie was based. But I naturally thought of both. (I have neither read the novel nor seen the movie.)

I would like to read Camus' thoughts on soccer/football, though. He apparently had wonderful things to say about his experience playing it.

April 15, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I still have that Camus biography I bought after reading - and been hugely impressed by - 'L'Etranger - probably about 35 years ago.

I bought 'The Plague' and the biog., shortly afterwards, but I never completed either; I think I still have 'The Plague', also, though I've no great plans to read it anytime soon.

I might be able to retrieve the biog. someday soon, and hopefully I'll find out what he has to say about the 'dark arts' of the goalkeeping 'profession'

April 15, 2013  

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