Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Last King of Scotland - Giles Foden

This one has good course potential because a film was made of the book, but I think I already have that ground covered with "Disgrace", which is probably a better choice, since the film is a bit older and was far less commercial and there is far less chance that students will have seen it already. Still, it´s a possibility.

REALLY interesting book. Details from the narrator´s childhood in Scotland made me smile, and I thought that the way he tells both versions of his two stories (his life in Uganda and his life in exile in the Hebrides) was cleverly constructed AND pretty realistic. It is not hard to believe that a lonely, guilty man in a croft on an island would sit down and write about the wild experiences he had had in the past.

I think, for course purposes, there are two main points of interest.

The first is the narrator´s descriptions of how he ended up in Uganda in the first place, and what he thought of it. Possibly useful for the first session? His reminiscences and comparisons between Scotland and Africa after his return might be useful too.

The second is the way Idi Amin´s speech is represented in the book. He speaks English to the narrator, and slight oddities of expression are included. I think this might be useful for helping students to stop thinking in terms of mistakes (which students fixate on). They are just, probably, not what a speaker of "Standard" English would say:

"No, doctor, you must not be frightened. To be afraid is a coward, and I do not think my own doctor can be a coward. Not possible. All of you, listen to me!....I want to talk about afraidness and cowardice in Uganda." (p.141)

Yes, I think there is useful stuff here, and it was a great read.


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