The surface story of Lydia’s journey is a fun and easy read (with some dark moments), and it is not at all necessary for the reader to even be aware of the complex allegorical scheme behind it in order to enjoy that story on its own terms. However, the allegory is there for enjoyment, too. It’s like a big puzzle for the reader to discover the clues and signposts and figure out what it all might mean when she puts the pieces together. I find that sort of thing stimulating and fun.
The allegory would only be completely obvious to people who are already very clued-up on various subjects. I hope most reasonably bright people with a passing familiarity with those subjects would get something from the allegory. Many folks won’t see a thing beyond the surface and, quite rightly, wouldn’t care about any subtexts. These notes are intended to enhance the reader’s experience of the novel by offering insights, clues, and explanations that will illuminate the allegorical scheme so that any reader can see however far they wish into the world of the allegory.
As the first of many such notes, this is a basic overview of the whole allegorical scheme.
There are four strands of allegory that run between Lydia’s story and the target (our unnamed modern-day international phenomenon – let’s call that mouthful ‘UMDIP’). I will deal in detail with each strand at other times and link them from here. One strand is secular and the three others are biblical.
The secular allegory draws on the central Eurasian mythology about Alexander the Great, particularly the body of literature known as ‘The Alexander Romances’. These myths have been adopted by various peoples at various times to serve their own purposes. I am following in that tradition by drawing from one story in the Romances because it includes tribes called Gog and Magog and can be used to elucidate how their modern day counterparts in our target (UMDIP) are manifested today (I discuss this in detail here).
The writers of the Romances are likely to have taken the name and inspiration for Gog and Magog from the Old Testament. Gog and Magog’s main appearance there is in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and that is the source of my main strand of allegory. (I discuss this strand here.) Although different texts for different strands differ as to whether it is Gog and Magog, Gog of Magog, or Gogmagog, I’ve taken it as both Gog and Magog and Gog of Magog, as both describe entities likely to have Gog being higher in authority to Magog for a couple of reasons I’ll look at another time.
The third strand is the wanderings of the tribes of Israel in the wilderness between slavery in Egypt and taking possession of the Promised Land (an introduction to this theme is here).
The fourth strand (outlined here) is mostly drawn from the hierarchy provided by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 6:12 – ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’. (A little of Eph 6:13-18 is relevant to the ‘makeover’ scene.)
Whilst these four strands seem very different and unrelated, they can and do fit together in a coherent scheme. The first two sort of fit over one another as parallels and the last two fit into the whole in harmony with with the others, serving different functions.
Some characters in the story can be identified with entities from several strands of allegory, other characters only one. A few characters can only be identified with entities from the target (UMDIP), either historical or contemporary. A character’s place in the allegorical scheme might be identified variously by their name, a name associated with them (such as a business), and their relationship with other characters.
Cities, towns, and large areas (such as Weelsby Woods) are just real places keeping their actual names. Allegorical or other meaning is indicated by people’s names, road names, addresses, institutions, businesses of any sort, dates and numbers, even food. They are usually somewhat disguised by being in a different language, an anagram, a homophone, or, rarely, a combination of these.
Although the target (UMDIP) is deadly serious and important, and the allegorical sources are quite dry, I did intend the unraveling of it all by the reader to be fun and stimulating. Above all, I wanted the surface story of Lydia’s journey to stand on its own merits, regardless of the allegory. I believe I have achieved both these goals, and the reviews support that view.