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Whit por Iain Banks
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Whit (original 1995; edição 1996)

por Iain Banks

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1,539118,527 (3.66)43
A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing... Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager. When her cousin Morag - Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian's four-yearly Festival of Love - disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon... Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; 'herbal' cigarettes and compact discs - Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.… (mais)
Membro:Adam_Mosley
Título:Whit
Autores:Iain Banks
Informação:Abacus (1996), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 464 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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Whit por Iain Banks (1995)

Adicionado recentemente porfmc712, unsquare, ThomasBrand, EllenMellor, Scotus5, mikebo123, biblioteca privada, mysterymuffin, andyscribe

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I work for a company whose senior officers, and a number of those lower down in the hierarchy, are Jehovah's Witnesses. It wasn't obvious to me from the start; 95% of the time, the conversations in the office are about football, films and quotes from classic tv sitcoms ("Blackadder" being a particular favourite). It took me about two years to piece together the reality from fragments of overheard conversations. What this tells me - as well as my years spent within various fandoms and my contacts with a range of peoples of different backgrounds and faiths throughout my working life - is that life and how you deal with the things it throws at you is pretty much the same no matter what particular life experiences or beliefs you have that make you a unique individual.

So it is with "Whit". One of Banks' mainstream novels, it is set in an exclusionary religious cult, located in lowland Scotland. Its members live secluded from the contemporary (1995) world, whose technological contrivences and conveniences - including upoholstery and retail outlets - are considered to be distractions that divert the individual's attention away from the Word of God. Cult members therefore live off the grid and by the labour of their own hands in growing their food and sourcing as much of their everyday lives as they can themselves.

The novel follows the adventures of Isis, grand-daughter of the cult's Founder and likely future leader, as she goes out into the misguided world in search of one of her cousins who is possibly needed to play a key role in a forthcoming cult ceremony. Isis navigates the perils, pitfalls and wonders of the modern world with the air of a somewhat earthy Paddington Bear; the overall effect is lightly comic. This isn't to say that the atheist Banks does a comic hatchet job on the cult; in his writing about the cult, its underpinnning belief structure, and what its members, particularly Isis, actually and honestly believes, he is very equitable. He takes the cult at face value and if he writes in a comic way about some of its more unusual practices (such as the Sitting Board), the mockery is no more or less than other writers have engaged in about their own religious beliefs in the past. (Think G.K. Chesterton, for example.)

In the course of her odyssey, Isis uncovers uncomfortable truths behind the origin of her cult, and she is faced with a dilemma: does she reveal everything that she knows, and pull the whole cult down into smoking ruins around her for the gratification of her own desire for self-preservation, or does she set matters right, move the cult onto a new direction, and safeguard those believers for whom the cult represents a genuine response to their own search for spiritual truth? As the cult's Elect, does she put responsibility to others before self-preservation?

Any other novelist might have gone down the apocalyptic route, and closed with Isis turning her back on the wreckage of the cult and walking off into the sunset to seek her own destiny. Banks does not; his underlying concern for the good of the many directs Isis' decisions.

In the end, of course, this is definitely a Nineties novel. Isis' appreciation of a microfiche reader she encounters in a library will probably be as puzzling to contemporary readers as the device was to Isis herself. But mostly, in this novel we see ourselves as others see us, which I suspect was the point from the outset. ( )
4 vote RobertDay | Feb 10, 2019 |
Its hard to describe this - with Banks, one would expect a screed against religion, but really this isn't - in fact, its oddly sympathetic to the idea of belief and the communities that can be fostered around that. Isis (full name: the Blessed Very Reverend Gaia-Marie Isis Saraswati Minerva Mirza Whit of Luskentyre, Beloved Elect of God III) is an admirable character, especially as a fish out of water in Babylondon, but doesn't lose herself through trials and tribulations that would shake most of us, especially those brought up in Banks' creative investion of a cult. And as always, the humor is biting - a sharp wit is on display. ( )
  A-S | Jan 6, 2019 |
Difficult for me to follow the plot and keep track of all the characters. ( )
  gac53 | Jul 1, 2017 |
The later you go in his career, the more Banks seemed to be rewriting the same subject in his literary fiction – the outsider coming home after a long time away, innocence being a state that once lost cannot be regained. Experience is a bastard like that.

Whit eventually falls into that tradition. The difference is that here we get the loss of innocence as part of the story, not part of the background. Whit initially seems to be set up as a broad comedy railing against the mindset of cults – with the Lusketeryians Banks certainly seems to be poking fun at the likes of the Amish. The eventual revelations about the founding of the religion certainly point that out as the author’s intention. Banks has the wit and critical intelligence to pull that off, but in all honesty it’s fairly obvious that it’s going to end this way from the start and it’s neither uncomfortably close enough to real life to be satirical nor unreal enough to be outright funny. But then Banks often had a problem with weak endings – it often feels like he’s having too much fun and has to arbitrarily stop.

The first half or so of the book though is Banks gold. Isis, the cult’s saviour elect, tries to search out her cousin. Isis is very much an innocent abroad (she knows enough to function in society, but falls down on small details). She confronts sex, drugs and rock and roll and pleasingly absurd revelations about her quarry. It gives Banks licence to cast an unforgiving eye on then contemporary society from the perspective of an outsider and it’s an opportunity he doesn’t waste. Still, despite the obvious ending there are enough memorable characters and grotesques to make this one worth reading. ( )
1 vote JonArnold | Aug 14, 2014 |
One of my favourite mainstream Banks novels. First half - warm, light and entertaining. Second half - warm, dark and gripping. Then the finale - well, that was something of an anticlimax.
1 vote d.r.halliwell | Apr 25, 2014 |
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A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing... Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager. When her cousin Morag - Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian's four-yearly Festival of Love - disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon... Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; 'herbal' cigarettes and compact discs - Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.

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