MURGATREUD'S EMPIRE by Bamber Gascoigne


Email this review


A farce which in its outre hilarity approaches the surreal commentary of some speculative fiction. Gascoigne, in his first novel, has what could possibly be the last silly say on the white man's burden. Murgatreud (""an indiscriminate march of flesh"") plummets among the pygmies in a New Guinea jungle. He is an entrepreneur in a taxi-airplane operation dedicated to traffic in shady or odd merchandise. Appropriately, Murgatreud speaks in cable/internationalese: ""Ja so, ' finito."" In the village others listen in wonder -- a seedy doctor and a priest who never found the strength to return to their failures; and their two adopted pygmies--J.K., trained by the doctor in Eton speech and dialectic, and Theresa, primed for nunhood. Murgatreud, as soon as he hears of the existence of a sacred storehouse of golden phalli (""Masterpiecetime, chay doeuvre, right?""), snaps to action in the interests of trade, introducing armor and ancient weaponry, supervising the construction of a flush toilet for his extended stay, starting local industry, laying out streets and so forth. Wars are initiated, federations and parliaments are begun, the doctor has a grand hospital complex and the priest is moved to explain more details about the life of Christ (a mistake, since the whites' very real savior is carefully crucified). Meanwhile J.K. has examined one rather tantalizing possibility himself, and it is he who supervises the cooking of the three whites in a ceremonial pot. ""De mortuis nil nisi bonum, what?' concedes J.K. . . . ""Frankly Murgatreud, you're a bit of a shit. . . ."" It's funny and the message is there via a fright wig.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Viking