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Ackroyd links these episodes with events in Timothy’s own life that reflect his thoughts and feelings, but some are more successful than others.
The book has a variety of writing styles all held together by the central story which like the dream visions is full of imagination and very well written.
What holds it back in my view is an overall feeling of misery and depression and a political message that manages to have a whiff, a malodor of nationalism and if I was being very critical maybe even of racism and sexism.
The book starts with Timothy Holcombe looking back on his life as he revisits an old building in London which served as a meeting hall where he and his father attracted a number of people who were seeking to be cured of their afflictions.
I expected to read a rant against the evils and corrupting influence of poetry and plays from the standpoint of an advocate of the new protestant religion bordering on Puritanism.
However while there are plenty of arguments as to how 16th century culture in respect of poetry and plays was undermining the moral fabric of society there is very little evidence taken from/or reference to the bible. First was the style of writing which draws heavily on John Lyly’s euphuistic approach, with its extended sentences containing any number of example, some of which appear almost contradictory and certainly hint at dualism.
He successfully cures his grandmother of a shaking ailment, but at some cost to himself because it makes him unwell for a time.