The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (Canopus in Argos: Archives, Book 5)
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From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the fifth and final instalment in the visionary novel cycle 'Canopus in Argos: Archives'. 'The Sentimental Agents …' is set in the declining Volyen Empire as the empires of Sirius and Shammat compete to overwhelm it with rhetoric and false sentiment. The Canopean Empire deploys covert agents to help the Volyens resist. But one of these agents, Incent, succumbs to 'Undulant Rhetoric', and Agent Klorathy must go to Volyen to help him see through the empty words that have beguiled him. Once more employing alien races to identify human failings, Lessing uses social and political satire to show how we misuse speech (and speeches) and delude ourselves with self-aggrandizing notions about the primacy of emotion. Her renowned insight into human behaviour goes hand in hand here with a vein of humour that sees her writing in the tradition of Voltaire and Swift.
life insinuate themselves into one’s hand? She pushed away that book, thought Pound’s verses could wait, and decided to enjoy an evening when nothing at all would be expected of her. An evening in April, and it was still light. This room was calm, usually calming, and like the other three rooms in this flat held thirty years of memories. Rooms a long time lived in can be like littered sea shores; hard to know where this or that bit of debris has come from. She knew exactly where the bits of
for settees, chairs, all the sprawl and comfort of a family room. They went gently, softly, hardly breathing, smiling and looking at each other and smiling even more because both had tears in their eyes – they went across the bare boards that soon would have rugs on them, and then slowly up the stairs where old-fashioned brass rods waited for a carpet. On the landing, they turned to marvel at the great room that would be the heart of their kingdom. They went on up. The first floor had one large
insects left, because of the great flocks of pipisaurs. The practice of supplying each infant with an infant pipisaur, but allowing no more, serves as a check on numbers. You will easily imagine the closeness of the bond, and, if one or the other of the partner dies, how great is the loss; often the survivor will languish and die, or kill itself. Under Volyen, Maken was regarded mainly as a supplier of pipisaurian products for the dites of the Volyen ‘Empire.’ It was also a favourite holiday
was worded roused his curiosity. That was why he arrived late on the scene of the murder. The native policemen did not have to search far for the murderer. After walking through the house, looking briefly at the body, and dispersing down the front of the little hill the house stood on, they saw Moses himself rise out of a tangled ant-heap in front of them. He walked up to them and said (or words to this effect): ‘Here I am.’ They snapped the handcuffs on him, and went back to the house to wait
nearly did, when Sergeant Denham climbed finally into the car, and had said: ‘Look here, I am just not going to shut up about this,’ what would have been gained? It is certain that the Sergeant would not have understood him. His face would have contracted, his brow gone dark with irritation, and, taking his foot off the clutch, he would have said, ‘Shut up about what? Who has asked you to shut up?’ And then, if Tony had stammered out something about responsiblity, he would have looked