Today’s topic is Engleby by Sebastian Faulks.
Engleby is a strange book, a combination of psychology, adolescentine themes, love, loneliness and despair. Most part of the novel is the first person view of Engleby, which tells us his story, starting from his young age to present day.
Engleby is the model of the lonely, the not understood, the enigmatic. He starts with a poor childhood, with a deviant father, with a full of despair mother, and only with a little sister to care about. Engleby has a horrifying high school experience, where he attends a famous school, but living in a common house with all other students, he suffers from exploitation, abuse in different manners: being called names, laughed at, made fun at, asked to perform humiliating tasks for the older students, like having a cold bath in the middle of the winter. Engleby’s response to all this is only ignorance, he only lives in his mind, presenting autism symptoms. Although on the outside he looks normal, on the inside he lives a life where he doesn’t care too much about the others, or even about what happens to him. In order to live, he begins stealing and conducting drugs merchandise. He also intoxicates himself with medicines, whatever he can get from pharmacies, he combines with alcohol to live a deprived life, where he is mostly drunk, junkie, and with a mind disorder. He acts under drug and alcohol influence, and his own personality is stranded by his addiction to all this stimulants.
Engleby has also glimpses of a normal human being: he is very erudite, reads a lot, knows a lot of stuff, and he spends a summer helping out his college to shoot a movie. Here, we are introduced to Jennifer Arkland, who quickly becomes his obsession. His life starts revolving at some point around Jennifer, he goes at her classes, tries to get in contact with her, but he doesn’t have any ultimate goal. His attempts at friendship or seduction are poor and without success.
Engleby’s diary is full of gaps, and we are confronted with the situation of Jennifer’s disappearance. Engleby is confronted by the police, but no evidence is found. He tries to continue his life without Jennifer, at first hard, but he soon manages to forget her by using again drugs and alcohol.
After a few years, Engleby is found working in journalism business, with not such great success. He tries to start a relationship with a woman from his work, but this is doomed from the start, when he tries to move in with her. His lack of social skills and empathy destroy his relationship.
A turning moment represents the finding of Jennifer’s buried body after many years, and with the help of modern technology, evidence indicates Engleby as a murderer. In the end, he admits his crime, and is sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he lives to the present day. His memories begin to surface, showing that the gaps produced by drugs also hide several murders and other toxic behavior.
Engleby does not indulge pity, he is a man that seem capable of controlling his actions, but through the book he only let me feel disgust. He is misogynistic, anti human, full of himself, even though in the start his early life deserves empathy. His punishment is completely worth, even after remembering his crime, he does not have any remorse nor does he blame himself for his actions. The only responsible for Jennifer’s death is Jennifer herself.
Engleby is a model of a naturalist sound psychopath, and the author tries to introduce us in the world of such a man, trying to make us understand how such crimes are possible, offering himself an analysis of Engleby’s psyche, through the forms of the papers written by his doctors.
Jennifer is the helpless victim, in her prime, and we can see through glimpses of her first person story diary, that she has a normal student life, only to be terminated by Engleby’s erratic act.
The novel itself leaves me with a bitter taste, hoping that there are not many Englebys out there, but knowing that the human mind is very complicated and still full of mysteries that we can possibly solve.