The Children of Men

P. D. James

Stumbled upon this book while reading "Death & the Afterlife" and I've decided to start it right after finishing that, because they're so closely related.

I didn't write anything about the previous book, because most of my thoughts are noted down in its second half, where different philosophers comment on the thoughts from the first part. The topic of the book was a very important one for me (as the title suggests): death, afterlife, what happens to our inner selves when we're so near death.

And while I approached "The Children of Men" with a curiosity, but just as a side-note for "Death & the Afterlife" and without high hopes, it was a book that absorbed my thoughts for the last week, its world burnt into my inner eyes, I sunk into its mood and I can still feel it on my skin. Its main character is one I was familiar with from Houellebecq books, middle-aged, to some extent successful, but unhappy and melancholic, the world he lives in is condemned to death by universal infertility.

"Pleasure need not be less keen because there will be centuries of springs to come, their blossom unseen by human eyes, the walls will crumble, the treed die and rot, the gardens revert to weeds and grass, because all beauty will outlive the human intelligence, which records, enjoys and celebrates it."

The books is also full of sentences with weight and meaning, but also beautiful, very beautiful. The language is one I won't forget for a while, I don't remember any English book thats use of words and sentences touched me so much (I got a familiar feeling as my beloved Hungarian descriptions).

"History, which interprets the past to understand the present and confront the future, is the least rewarding discipline for a dying species."

Samuel Scheffler tries to draw the border of the difference between a dying species (just as every species is a dying kind) and a soon dying, almost dead species, although I did not find his points satisfactory. Seriously, what makes the difference?

There are quote some quotes that I would put here to emphasize the sharply shaped language of the book, but I won't. Very recommended to read and maybe afterwards "Death & the Afterlife".

"Depression settled on him like a familiar heavy blanket. Weighted with guilt and memory and anxiety, he chould almost smell the accumulated rubbish of the dead years."

And as a last one, an image burnt into my memory:

"Daylight, tentative and bleak, stole like a chill breath into the wood, wrapping itself round barks and broken boughs, touching the boles of the trees and the low denuded branches, giving darkness and mystery form and substance."