Transcript: Robert Adams on Mister Pip | Dec 03, 2009

Robert Adams stands behind a wooden lectern on a stage, in a dimly lit auditorium, and addresses an unseen audience.
He’s in his sixties, balding, with a white goatee. He’s wearing rounded glasses, a beige suit, and a brown shirt.

He says TODAY I'M GOING TO
REVIEW
MISTER PIP,
BY THE NEW ZEALAND
WRITER, LLOYD JONES.
THE NOVEL IS SET
IN A REAL PLACE,
THE ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE
IN THE ARCHIPELAGO
KNOWN AS PAPUA
NEW GUINEA.
AND TO MAKE IT CLEAR
TO THE AUDIENCE,
I'VE PREPARED
A VISUAL AID.

[laughter]

Robert takes out a map of Australia and its surrounding seas and islands. He places it on an easel. The map highlights an island north of Australia.

Robert continues AS MY MAP SHOWS,
THIS IS AUSTRALIA.
DOWN HERE IS
NEW ZEALAND.
OVER HERE, WITH THE
CAPITAL LETTER I,
THE ISLANDS OF
INDONESIA -
SUMATRA, JAVA,
BALI, AND SO ON.
TO THE NORTH OF AUSTRALIA
ARE A GROUP OF ISLANDS
CALLED PAPUA
NEW GUINEA.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Robert Adams. Author, a love of reading. Mister Pip. Hart House Theatre, Toronto. June 23, 2009."

Robert points at the map and continues JUST DOWN HERE,
NORTH TO SOUTH,
ARE A STRING OF ISLANDS
SEPARATE CALLED
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
IS THE AREA
I'M GOING TO BE
TALKING ABOUT,
AND I'LL COME BACK TO MY
MAP IN A LITTLE WHILE.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO
UNDERSTANDING OUR NOVEL,
MISTER PIP, TO UNDERSTAND
HOW THE COUNTRY
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
CAME INTO BEING.
A COUNTRY CAN COME INTO
BEING IN THREE WAYS.
THE FIRST WAY IS
THE TRADITIONAL,
ORGANIC WAY, IF
YOU LIKE.
BACK IN THE BEGINNING
OF HISTORY, THERE WERE,
OF COURSE, NO COUNTRIES.
THE BASIC UNIT OF
SOCIETY WAS THE FAMILY.
AND AS THE FAMILY GREW,
THE EXTENDED FAMILY BECAME
A TRIBE, AND THEN A
STRONG TRIBE WOULD
TAKE OVER SMALLER TRIBES,
AND THUS FINALLY,
YOU WOULD HAVE A COUNTRY,
A COLLECTION OF TRIBES.
THAT'S HOW THE OLDER
COUNTRIES LIKE FRANCE
AND ENGLAND CAME
INTO BEING.
THERE IS A SECOND WAY A
COUNTRY CAN COME INTO BEING,
AND IT IS REALLY A
CONTINUATION OF THE FIRST.
THE SECOND WAY A COUNTRY
CAN COME INTO BEING
IS WHEN A GROUP OF SMALL
COUNTRIES DECIDE TO UNITE
BECAUSE THEY FACE
A COMMON DANGER.
A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE
WOULD BE, FOR EXAMPLE,
IN THE 18TH CENTURY,
THE 13 ENGLISH-SPEAKING
COLONIES IN NORTH
AMERICA UNITED IN 1776
AGAINST THEIR COMMON
ENEMY, GREAT BRITAIN,
WHO WERE TAXING WITHOUT
REPRESENTATION,
AND THEY FORMED A NEW
UNION, A NEW COUNTRY,
THE UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA.
SIMILARLY, IN EUROPE,
IN THE 19TH CENTURY,
A GROUP OF SMALL
GERMAN-SPEAKING COUNTRIES
UNITED TO FORM GERMANY,
AND A GROUP OF SMALL
ITALIAN-SPEAKING COUNTRIES
UNITED TO FORM ITALY.
BUT THERE IS A THIRD
WAY A COUNTRY
CAN COME INTO BEING.
AND PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS
THE PERFECT EXAMPLE.
AND NOW I COME
BACK TO MY MAP.
UNTIL THE END OF
THE 18TH CENTURY,
THE COUNTRIES TO THE
NORTH OF AUSTRALIA
WERE MARKED ON EUROPEAN
MAPS SIMPLY AS...
THE BIG ISLAND WAS PAPUA,
THERE WAS A SMALLER ISLAND
HERE CALLED
NEW BRITAIN,
AN EVEN SMALLER ISLAND
CALLED NEW IRELAND,
AND, OF COURSE, A HOST OF
OTHER EVEN SMALLER ISLANDS
AROUND IN THE
ARCHIPELAGO.
THEY WEREN'T
UNITED IN ANY WAY.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, THERE
WAS MASSIVE INTERTRIBAL
WARFARE, BLOOD
FEUDS, VENDETTAS.
ESSENTIALLY, PAPUA NEW
GUINEA WAS AN AREA OF 700
DIFFERENT TRIBES SPEAKING
700 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.
AND THEN, IN 1793, AS
PART OF ITS IMPERIAL
EXPANSION, SEEKING SECURE
NAVAL AND TRADING BASES
ALL OVER THE WORLD,
GREAT BRITAIN SEIZED
MOST OF THIS AREA.
THEY SEIZED THE EASTERN
HALF OF THE ISLAND
OF PAPUA, TOGETHER WITH
NEW BRITAIN, NEW IRELAND,
AND A LOT OF OTHER
LITTLE ISLANDS HERE,
AND THEY CALLED IT
BRITISH NEW GUINEA.
A LITTLE LATER,
THE DUTCH SEIZED
THE WESTERN
PART OF PAPUA.
THEY CALLED IT DUTCH NEW
GUINEA, AND EVENTUALLY,
IT BECAME PART
OF INDONESIA.
BUT OUR CONCERN IS
HERE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
1793 IT BECAME A
BRITISH COLONY.
MORE THAN A HUNDRED
YEARS LATER, IN 1906,
GREAT BRITAIN CEDED THE
ADMINISTRATION OF PAPUA
NEW GUINEA TO AUSTRALIA,
A LOYAL OUTPOST
OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
AND BETWEEN 1906 AND
1975, THIS AREA
WAS ESSENTIALLY AN
AUSTRALIAN PROTECTORATE,
AN AUSTRALIAN COLONY.
AFTER THE SECOND
WORLD WAR,
AS PART OF THE PROCESS
OF DECOLONIZATION,
THE AUSTRALIANS GAVE
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
ITS INDEPENDENCE.
WHAT WAS THE SITUATION
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
WHEN IT BECAME AN
INDEPENDENT COUNTRY IN 1975?
IT WAS STILL A COLLECTION
OF 700 DIFFERENT TRIBES
SPEAKING 700
DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.
THE CAPITAL WAS PORT
MORESBY, JUST HERE,
ON THE ISLAND
OF PAPUA.
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
OF THE NEW COUNTRY
WAS DECLARED TO
BE ENGLISH.
BUT THE PROBLEM WAS NOBODY
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL
OF PORT MORESBY
SPOKE ENGLISH.
IN SOME OF THE
LARGER TOWNS,
PARTICULARLY
ALONG THE COAST,
THEY SPOKE A DIALECT
OF ENGLISH CALLED
PIDGIN ENGLISH.
BY THE WAY, IT'S
INTERESTING TO NOTE
THAT THE TERM "PIDGIN
ENGLISH" ORIGINATED NOT
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
BUT IN CHINA.
IF MY MAP WERE
LARGE ENOUGH,
IT WOULD BE
SHOWN OVER HERE.
WHEN BRITISH AND EUROPEAN
TRADERS DID BUSINESS
WITH CHINA IN THE 19TH
CENTURY, THEY USED
A SIMPLIFIED
ENGLISH TO TRADE.
THEY CALLED IT
BUSINESS ENGLISH.
AND THE NEAREST THE
CHINESE COULD COME
TO PRONOUNCING THE
EXPRESSION BUSINESS
ENGLISH WAS TO SAY
PIDZIN ENGLISH.
AND SO SIMPLIFIED
ENGLISH, PIDGIN ENGLISH,
CAME INTO BEING.
AND THE EXPRESSION,
AND PIDGIN ENGLISH,
SPREAD ALL THROUGH
THE SOUTH PACIFIC.
PIDGIN ENGLISH WILL OFTEN
BE REFERRED TO
IN OUR NOVEL AS THE COMMON
LANGUAGE OF THE TOWNS
AND VILLAGES OF
PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
SO DIFFERENT FROM
STANDARD ENGLISH
AS TO BE A
SEPARATE LANGUAGE.
WHEN THE COUNTRY OF
PAPUA NEW GUINEA BECAME
INDEPENDENT IN 1975, VERY
FEW OF THE PEOPLE
OUTSIDE THE FEW TOWNS,
AND THE CAPITAL
OF PORT MORESBY KNEW THAT
THEY WERE A COUNTRY.
VERY FEW PEOPLE KNEW THEY
WERE NOW INDEPENDENT.
VERY FEW PEOPLE, IN FACT,
KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON
IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD.
THAT ISN'T AS FARFETCHED
AS IT SOUNDS.
WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BOY
IN THE 1930s, AND 1940s,
I REMEMBER READING THAT
A GROUP OF AUSTRALIAN
AND DUTCH PROSPECTORS
LOOKING FOR GOLD,
COPPER IN THE PAPUA
HIGHLANDS HERE,
DISCOVERED PROBABLY
TRIBES NUMBERING
PROBABLY ABOUT A
MILLION PEOPLE.
THEY WERE USING
STONE AGE TOOLS,
STONE AGE IMPLEMENTS.
THEY HAD NEVER HEARD
OF PORT MORESBY.
THEY HAD NEVER HEARD
THE EXPRESSION,
PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
AND THEY CERTAINLY DIDN'T
REALIZE THEY WERE PART
OF A UNIFIED COUNTRY.
THERE HAS, OF COURSE,
BEEN SOME CHANGE
DURING MY LIFETIME.
BUT THE FACT IS, THAT
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
IN THAT ARCHIPELAGO,
THE PEOPLE LIVE AT VERY
DIFFERING STAGES
OF ECONOMIC
AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
IN MANY CASES, THE
ONLY WAY THE CENTRAL
GOVERNMENT AT PORT
MORESBY CAN IMPOSE
ITS WILL UPON THE CITIZENS
IS BY FORCE OF ARMS.
THERE WAS ONLY ONE FACTOR
THAT CONTRIBUTED
TO NATIONAL UNITY.
99.9 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
ARE OF MELANESIAN
RACIAL STOCK,
WHICH MEANS
THEY ARE BROWN.
REDDISH BROWN,
COPPERY BROWN.
ALMOST RED
IN COLOUR.
EXCEPT FOR
ONE ISLAND.
THE EASTERN MOST ISLAND
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
THE ISLAND OF
BOUGAINVILLE HERE.
WHEN THE BRITISH SEIZED
THAT AREA IN 1793,
THEY HAD INCLUDED THE
ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE
BECAUSE IT HAS
THE RICHEST
COPPER DEPOSITS
IN THE WORLD.
THE PROBLEM, HOWEVER, IS
THAT THE PEOPLE OF PAPUA
NEW GUINEA,
WHICH I WILL -
THE PEOPLE OF
BOUGAINVILLE...
THIS LITTLE ISLAND HERE,
ARE NOT MELANESIAN.
THEY ARE BLACK.
THEY ARE MIDNIGHT BLACK.
THEY ARE SHINY BLACK.
I HAVE FRIENDS WHO
HAVE SPENT TIME
ON BOUGAINVILLE.
AND THEY TELL ME THE
PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE
ARE BLACKER THAN
ANYONE CAN IMAGINE.
AND MY FRIENDS ARE
PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVED
ALL OVER AFRICA.
ETHNICALLY, BOUGAINVILLE
DOESN'T BELONG
WITH PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
IT SHOULD REALLY BE THE
NORTHERN MOST ISLAND
OF THE SOLOMON ISLANDS.
THE BRITISH DIDN'T INCLUDE
THE REST OF THE SOLOMON
ISLANDS IN THEIR LAND
GRAB OF 1793 BECAUSE
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS ARE
VERY UNPRODUCTIVE.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE
BRITISH ONLY BOTHERED
TO COLONIZE THEM A HUNDRED
YEARS LATER IN 1893.
AND THEN, ONLY BECAUSE
ANGLICAN MISSIONARIES
LIVING IN THE SOLOMON
ISLANDS PLEADED
FOR A BRITISH ADMINISTRATION,
AND BRITISH SOLDIERS
BECAUSE THEY WERE TIRED
OF BEING EATEN BY THE LOCALS.

[laughter]

Robert continues A LITTLE GIRL, AT THE
BEGINNING OF
MISTER PIP.
IN FACT, OUR PROTAGONIST,
MATILDA, SAYS,
RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING
OF THE NOVEL,
I QUOTE, "ACCORDING
TO PORT MORESBY,
WE ARE ALL
ONE COUNTRY.
ACCORDING TO US, WE ARE
BLACK AS THE NIGHT.
THE GOVERNMENT SOLDIERS
LOOK LIKE PEOPLE LEACHED
UP OUT OF THE RED EARTH.
AND THAT'S WHY WE
CALL THEM REDSKINS."
THE BOUGAINVILLEANS,
BLACK,
HAVE ALWAYS FELT
DISCRIMINATED AGAINST
BY THE GOVERNMENT
AT PORT MORESBY,
WHETHER IT WAS A
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION,
AN AUSTRALIAN
ADMINISTRATION,
OR FINALLY, AN INDEPENDENT
ADMINISTRATION.
AND SO ACCORDINGLY,
IN THE YEAR 1990,
BOUGAINVILLE DECLARED
ITS INDEPENDENCE.
NOW, IT COULDN'T
REALLY BE INDEPENDENT.
THE POPULATION IN
1990 WAS BETWEEN 100-,
AND 130,000 PEOPLE.
SECESSION FROM PAPUA NEW
GUINEA WOULD HAVE BEEN
THE FIRST STEP TO UNION
WITH THE SOLOMON ISLANDS
WHO ARE THEIR RACIAL
BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
SINCE RIO TINTO, THE
GREAT MINING COMPANY,
HAD BEEN DEVELOPING THE
GREAT COPPER MINE
ON BOUGAINVILLE, AND SINCE
COPPER ON BOUGAINVILLE
WAS PROVIDING 70 PERCENT
OF THE GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
THE GOVERNMENT AT
PORT MORESBY
WAS VERY RELUCTANT TO
LET THE ISLAND GO.
ACCORDINGLY, IN 1990,
WHEN THE REBEL LEADER,
FRANCIS ONA, BETTER KNOWN
BY HIS NICKNAME SAM ONA,
WHEN HE DECLARED
INDEPENDENCE,
THE PORT MORESBY
GOVERNMENT ACTED QUICKLY.
THEY EVACUATED ALL
WHITE PERSONNEL
FROM BOUGAINVILLE,
MAINLY AUSTRALIAN.
THE PEOPLE AT THE COPPER
MINE, DOCTORS, TEACHERS,
EVERYBODY WHO WAS WHITE,
AND CERTAINLY EVERYBODY
WHO WAS AUSTRALIAN.
THEY DIDN'T WANT
IN THE CIVIL WAR
ANY AUSTRALIAN
LOSS OF LIFE.
THEY DIDN'T WANT TO OFFEND
THEIR POWERFUL NEIGHBOUR.
THEY EVACUATED ALL
WHITE PERSONNEL,
AND THEN THEY
BLOCKADED
THE ISLAND OF
BOUGAINVILLE.
THEY DECLARED
AN EMBARGO.
NOBODY COULD MOVE IN, AND
NOBODY COULD MOVE OUT.
NOBODY STARVED TO DEATH
BECAUSE THE ISLAND
OF BOUGAINVILLE
IS RICH.
IT IS ABUNDANT.
THERE IS FISH.
THERE IS FRUIT.
BUT ALTHOUGH THE
ISLANDERS COULD FISH,
FARM, GATHER FRUIT
AND VEGETABLES,
WHAT THEY RAN
OUT OF WAS FUEL.
FUEL FOR THE
GENERATORS, AND SOON
THERE WAS NO
ELECTRICITY.
AND THE WHITE
DOCTORS HAVING LEFT,
THEY SOON RAN
OUT OF MEDICINE.
AND OUR NOVEL,
MISTER PIP
SAYS,
SOON AFTER 1990,
MALARIA BROKE OUT
ON THE ISLAND OF
BOUGAINVILLE,
AND THERE WERE BABIES
DYING OF MALARIA.
IN ADDITION, ALTHOUGH
THERE WAS A BLOCKADE,
AN EMBARGO, GOVERNMENT
TROOPS KNOWN AS REDSKINS
BECAUSE THEY WERE
RACIALLY DIFFERENT,
WOULD FREQUENTLY LAND ON
THE ISLAND BY HELICOPTER.
THEY WOULD SEIZE ALL
THE REBELS THEY COULD.
THEY WOULD RAPE ALL THE
WOMEN THEY COULD FIND.
AND THOSE REBELS
THEY DID NOT SHOOT
IN THE CONFRONTATION,
THEY WOULD GATHER UP
INTO THE HELICOPTERS,
FLY THEM OUT TO SEA,
AND DROP THEM
INTO THE OCEAN.
OUR NOVEL DESCRIBES
HOW THEY FELL,
THEIR ARMS AND LEGS
KICKING AND FLAILING,
AS THEY FELL
INTO THE WATER.
THE REBELLION
BEGAN IN 1990.
IT LASTED NEARLY
TEN YEARS.
IT BEGAN TO FIZZLE
OUT IN 1998, 1999.
OVER THE EIGHT OR NINE
YEARS OF THE REBELLION,
OF THE 100,000 PLUS
ISLANDERS, 15,000
OR MORE WERE KILLED
BY THE GOVERNMENT.
IT WAS ALL FOR NOTHING.
NO FOREIGN GOVERNMENT
RECOGNIZED
THE INDEPENDENCE OF
BOUGAINVILLE.
NOBODY SEEMED TO
PAY ANY ATTENTION,
AND NOBODY WORRIED
ABOUT THE BRUTALITY
OF THE PORT MORESBY
GOVERNMENT.
BUT UGLY RUMOURS DID
REACH THE OUTSIDE WORLD.
AND OUR NEW ZEALAND
WRITER, LLOYD JONES,
DOWN HERE IN WELLINGTON,
NEW ZEALAND,
HEARD THAT SOMETHING
TERRIBLE WAS GOING ON
UP ON THE ISLAND
OF BOUGAINVILLE
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
ABOUT THE SECOND YEAR
OF THE REBELLION,
LET'S SAY, SECOND OR
THIRD YEAR, 1992,
LLOYD JONES IS NOT
ONLY A NOVELIST,
HE IS A JOURNALIST.
HE WENT UP TO THE
SOLOMON ISLANDS.
HE CHARTED A BOAT.
HE SAILED AROUND
BOUGAINVILLE.
HE WAS PREVENTED
FROM LANDING.
THE PORT MORESBY
GOVERNMENT HAD NOT ONLY
PRONOUNCED AN EMBARGO,
THEY HAD PRONOUNCED
A PRESS BLACKOUT.
NO JOURNALISTS
WERE PERMITTED.
BUT LLOYD JONES WENT
UP TO THE ISLAND
OF NEW BRITAIN, TO
THE TOWN OF RABAUL,
AND THERE HE
STRUCK LUCKY.
IN A BAR, HE MET SOME
GOVERNMENT SOLDIERS,
SOME RED-SKIN
SOLDIERS ON LEAVE,
AND THEY WERE DRUNK.
AND HE GOT THEM
EVEN DRUNKER.
AND ONCE THEY
WERE VERY DRUNK,
THEY STARTED TO BOAST
ABOUT THE EXECUTIONS
WITHOUT TRIAL, ABOUT
THE MASS RAPES,
ABOUT DROPPING THE
REBELS INTO THE SEA
FROM HELICOPTERS.
SO HE HAD THE KNOWLEDGE,
BUT HE COULDN'T
GET ON TO THE ISLAND.
IN 1999, THERE WERE STILL
SOME REBELS HOLDING OUT
IN THE MOUNTAINS.
AT THE REQUEST OF THE
PORT MORESBY GOVERNMENT,
AUSTRALIA SENT
PEACEKEEPERS,
SOMETHING LIKE THE U.N.,
UP TO THE ISLAND
OF BOUGAINVILLE TO
RESTORE ORDER, NORMALCY,
AND IN FACT, TO MAKE
SURE COPPER PRODUCTION
RESUMED AT THE
COPPER MINE.
BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL THE
YEAR 2001 THAT LLOYD JONES
COULD GET ONTO THE
ISLAND ITSELF.
AND HE GOT ONTO THE
ISLAND BY GOING UP
AS PART OF THE
AUSTRALIAN VSA:
VOLUNTEER SERVICE
OVERSEAS.
THEIR EQUIVALENT
OF THE PEACE CORPS.
HE WENT UP TO
BOUGAINVILLE.
HE MET THE REBEL LEADER,
FRANCIS SAM ONA,
WHO WAS STILL LIVING
UP IN THE MOUNTAIN,
CENTRAL BOUGAINVILLE.
AT HIS OWN EXPENSE,
LLOYD JONES FOUNDED
IN BOUGAINVILLE, WHAT
THEY CALL STORY HOUSE.
IT WAS A PLACE WHERE
BOUGAINVILLEANS,
THE ISLANDERS COULD
COME TO RECORD
THEIR TESTIMONY,
THEIR ORAL HISTORY,
AND THEIR ACCOUNT
OF THE CIVIL WAR,
THE EIGHT, NINE YEARS
OF CIVIL WAR.
AND THAT'S THE SITUATION
AT THE MOMENT.
THE PORT MORESBY
GOVERNMENT HAS REASSUMED
COMPLETE CONTROL.
AUSTRALIAN PEACE
KEEPERS MAKE SURE
THAT NO VIOLENCE BREAKS OUT,
AND THE COPPER PRODUCTION
OF BOUGAINVILLE IS
BACK IN FULL SWING.
AND NOW IT'S TIME TO MEET,
PERHAPS, LLOYD JONES,
THE WELLINGTON, NEW
ZEALAND WRITER WHO DECIDED,
AFTER MUCH THOUGHT,
MUCH REFLECTION,
IN THE YEAR 2007, TO
WRITE A NOVEL SET
IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE
BOUGAINVILLE REBELLION,
1991-1992.
I SHOULD MENTION,
AT THIS POINT,
THAT SINCE I LAST SPOKE
HERE, THE LAST FOUR YEARS,
I SHOULD MENTION WHAT
I'VE BEEN DOING.
I WAS TIRED.
I HAD BEEN REVIEWING BOOKS
ON STAGE FOR MANY YEARS,
ELEVEN YEARS ON STAGE
IN MONTREAL,
EIGHT YEARS ON STAGE HERE
AT HART HOUSE THEATRE.
I WAS TIRED.
SO I DECIDED TO REST.
FOR ONE YEAR
I DID NOTHING.
A LOVING, BLESSED YEAR.
AND THEN, MY WIFE, PEARL,
WHO DOESN'T LIKE TO SEE
ME IDLE, SAID, WE
LIKE TO TRAVEL.
WHY YOU HAVE SO MANY TALKS
IN YOUR FILING CABINET,
WHY DON'T WE
COMBINE THE TWO,
AND YOU GIVE TALKS
WHILE YOU TRAVEL?
SO SHE GOT IN TOUCH -
TYPICAL OF PEARL,
SHE GOT IN TOUCH WITH
THE TOP OF THE LINE,
THE CRYSTAL CRUISE LINE
OUT OF LOS ANGELES,
THE MOST EXPENSIVE
CRUISE LINE.
SHE SENT THEM A LOT
OF PRESS CUTTINGS,
AND VIDEO MATERIAL,
AND SO ON, INTERVIEWS,
AND THEY DECIDED
THREE YEARS AGO
TO TRY ME OUT ON
A CRUISE.
I WENT FROM CAPE
TOWN TO DUBAI.
MY TALKS WERE
RECEIVED WELL.
THEY INVITED
ME BACK.
I DID THREE CRUISES
THE FOLLOWING YEAR.
AND THEN, THIS YEAR,
EARLIER THIS YEAR,
THEY OFFERED ME
THE WORLD CRUISE.
AND SO, FOR THREE-AND-A-HALF
MONTHS, I WAS ON THE
'CRYSTAL SERENITY' GOING ALL
AROUND THE PACIFIC RIM
FROM LOS ANGELES
TO MEXICO,
TO THE SOUTH SEAS:
TAHITI, FIJI, BORA BORA,
RAROTONGA, MOOREA; AND
ALL AROUND NEW ZEALAND,
ALL AROUND AUSTRALIA, ON
TO BALI, UP TO SINGAPORE,
HONG KONG, VIETNAM,
CHINA, JAPAN, RUSSIA,
THE ALEUTIANS,
ALASKA, CANADA,
AND BACK TO
LOS ANGELES.
THREE-AND-A-HALF MONTHS.
AS PEARL PUTS IT, SHE
THOUGHT WE HAD DIED
AND GONE TO HEAVEN.

[laughter]

Robert continues I GAVE ONE LECTURE
EVERY FIVE DAYS.
NOT TOO GRUELLING.
PARTICULARLY SINCE
ON MOST CRUISE SHIPS,
YOU ONLY LECTURE
FOR 45 MINUTES.
I SAY ALL THAT TO POINT
OUT THAT ONE OF OUR
MANY STOPS WAS
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND.
I HAD ALREADY
READ
MISTER PIP,
LIKED IT VERY
MUCH, AND KNEW
I WAS GOING TO
REVIEW IT.
SO PEARL ARRANGED THROUGH
HIS PUBLISHER THAT I MEET
LLOYD JONES, AND WE MET
AT A BAR IN WELLINGTON.
WE SPENT A DELIGHTFUL
MORNING TOGETHER.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WOULD
LIKE TO LOOK AT THEM
AFTERWARDS, I HAVE
TWO WONDERFUL PICTURES
WITH ME AND LLOYD JONES.
ONE IN BLACK AND WHITE, AND
ONE IN MAGNIFICENT COLOUR.

He picks up and displays two versions of the same picture, one in colour and one in black and white. They show two men shaking hands.

Robert continues I AM THE ONE IN WHITE;
HE IS THE ONE IN BLACK.
AND I PUT THEM AT THE
FRONT OF THE STAGE.
ANYONE WHO
WANTS TO, LATER,
CAN STUDY THEM
IN DETAIL.

[laughter]

Robert continues LLOYD JONES IS A MOST
INTERESTING MAN.
HE WAS BORN IN 1955.
HE HAS AN APARTMENT IN
WELLINGTON, AND A RANCH,
A 20-ACRE RANCH, SOME
DISTANCE OUTSIDE THE CITY.
SINCE HE IS VERY WELL
KNOWN IN HIS OWN COUNTRY,
BUT NOT SO WELL KNOWN
OUTSIDE NEW ZEALAND,
UNTIL
MISTER PIP,
I THOUGHT I WOULD
OFFER A FEW
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES.
HIS SEVEN NOVELS
BEFORE
MISTER PIP
-
IT IS HIS
EIGHTH NOVEL -
WON HIM EVERY LITERARY
PRIZE IN NEW ZEALAND,
AND MANY IN AUSTRALIA.
THOSE SEVEN EARLIER NOVELS
COVER A LOT OF GROUND.
THE FIRST ONE I READ,
I THINK IT WAS
HIS FOURTH NOVEL, WAS
CALL
BIOGRAFI.
SPELLED WITH AN F.
IT WAS SET IN ALBANIA.
IT PURPORTED TO BE A
SEARCH FOR THE DOUBLE
OF THE COMMUNIST
DICTATOR ENVER HOXHA.
THAT'S A FICTITIOUS
JOURNEY,
BUT THE NOVEL
IS DELIGHTFUL,
SET AGAINST A
FASCINATING ALBANIA.
THEN, HE WROTE ANOTHER
NOVEL CALLED
THE BOOK OF FAME.
THE BOOK OF FAME
WAS SET
AGAINST THE 1906
WORLD TOUR OF THE NEW
ZEALAND RUGBY TEAM
THE ALL BLACKS.
THEY TOURED EUROPE, NORTH
AMERICA, PARTS OF AFRICA,
AND THE ALL BLACKS
DEFEATED EVERY RUGBY TEAM
IN THE WORLD EXCEPT
THE WELSH RUGBY TEAM.

[laughter]
[Applause]

Robert continues AS WE SAY IN WELSH...

He says something in Welsh and continues
WHICH IS VERY
VULGAR, BUT IT MEANS
GOOD LUCK TO THE WELSH.

[laughter]

Robert continues HIS LAST NOVEL, HIS
SEVENTH NOVEL BEFORE
MISTER PIP
WAS
PARTICULARLY FASCINATING.
I REREAD IT
VERY RECENTLY.
IT IS CALLED - PLEASE
REMEMBER THE TITLE AND READ IT
IF YOU CAN -
HERE AT
THE END OF THE WORLD -
WHICH IS WHAT THEY
CALL, NEW ZEALAND
IS CALLED NEW ZEALAND.
HERE AT THE END OF THE
WORLD WE LEARN TO DANCE.
IT IS ABOUT - IT CONTAINS
TWO FANTASTIC LOVE STORIES.
ONE IS SET DURING
THE FIRST WORLD WAR,
BUT CONTINUES RIGHT
UP UNTIL THE PRESENT.
THE OTHER LOVE STORY
INVOLVES ONE
OF THE GRANDCHILDREN THAT
CAME FROM THE FIRST
LOVE STORY AND IS SET IN
CONTEMPORARY TIMES.
IT'S ABOUT TWO COUPLES
WHO LOVE TO TANGO.
TO TANGO.
AND THE NOVEL MOVES FROM
NEW ZEALAND TO ENGLAND,
TO ARGENTINA, TO BUENOS
AIRES, TO LA BOCA,
AND BACK TO ENGLAND, AND
BACK TO NEW ZEALAND.
AND FREQUENT REFERENCES
TO THE TANGO,
TO ONE OF MY
GREAT HEROES,
THE TANGO SINGER
CARLOS GARDEL,
WHO DIED IN AN AIR
CASH IN THE '30s.
IT'S A DELIGHTFUL,
BEAUTIFUL LITTLE NOVEL.
I DO RECOMMEND IT TO YOU
IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT,
HERE AT THE END OF THE
WORLD WE LEARN TO DANCE.
NOW, AS I HOPE THAT LITTLE
OVERVIEW HAS SHOWN,
LLOYD JONES LOVES TO SET
HIS NOVELS AGAINST
AN HISTORICAL
BACKGROUND.
AND SO IT IS WITH
MISTER PIP.
BEFORE I LEAVE LLOYD JONES
THE WRITER AND MOVE
TO THE NOVEL ITSELF, LET
ME FILL IN A LITTLE
MORE BIOGRAPHY BECAUSE
WE ALL LOVE GOSSIP.
HE IS A WELL-ROUNDED,
VERY WELL-TRAVELLED MAN.
WHEN I MET HIM
EARLIER THIS YEAR,
I THINK IN FEBRUARY,
HE HAD JUST COME BACK
FROM A ONE YEAR WRITING
FELLOWSHIP IN BERLIN.
HE GOT THAT FELLOWSHIP ON
THE STRENGTH, I THINK,
OF
HERE AT THE END OF
THE WORLD WE LEARN TO DANCE
AND
MISTER PIP.
MISTER PIP, PROBABLY,
PARTICULARLY BECAUSE
IT WON THE COMMONWEALTH
WRITERS' PRIZE,
AND WAS A RUNNER-UP FOR THE
MAN BOOKER PRIZE IN LONDON.
LLOYD JONES IS MARRIED.
I SHOULDN'T SAY "WAS."
HE WAS MARRIED AND
LIVING WITH HIS WIFE
FOR 20 YEARS.
NOW, AND I QUOTE
HIM, UNFORTUNATELY,
THEY ARE SEPARATED.
SHE IS A JEWISH GIRL
FROM NEW YORK, QUEENS,
WHOM HE MET WHEN THEY
WERE BOTH TRAVELLING
IN GREECE.
SHE IS NOW BACK IN
QUEENS WITH THEIR THREE
CHILDREN, WHO MOVE
ABOUT, BUT ARE CENTRED
IN QUEENS NEAR THEIR
MOTHER AND GRANDPARENTS.
HIS THREE CHILDREN
ARE A PAINTER,
AN ACTOR, AND A LAWYER.

He chuckles and continues
THERE IS A FAILURE
IN EVERY FAMILY.

[laughter]

Robert continues THAT IS A JOKE,
A JOKE, A JOKE.

[laughter]

Robert continues AND BECAUSE HIS CHILDREN
SPEND MUCH OF THEIR TIME
IN NEW YORK CITY, LLOYD
JONES SPENDS MUCH OF HIS TIME
THERE TO BE NEAR
HIS CHILDREN.
HE TOLD ME SOMETHING I
FOUND VERY INTERESTING.
HE TOLD ME THAT BOTH OF
HIS PARENTS WERE ORPHANS.
HIS FATHER GREW UP
IN AN ORPHANAGE,
AND HIS MOTHER GREW
UP IN A FOSTER HOME.
AND I THOUGHT THAT
WENT A LONG WAY,
OR PART OF THE
WAY, ANYWAY,
TO EXPLAINING HIS
FASCINATION WITH DICKENS'
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
AND
ITS ORPHAN PROTAGONIST PIP.
LLOYD JONES TOLD ME
THAT HE FINDS THE IDEA,
OBVIOUSLY IT INVOLVES
PERSONAL PAIN,
BUT THE IDEA OF BEING
AN ORPHAN FASCINATING.
I QUOTE HIM, "IF YOU HAVE
NO PARENTS TO DEFINE YOU,
BEING AN ORPHAN IS A
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
TO DEFINE YOURSELF."
TO DEFINE YOURSELF.
TO INVENT YOURSELF.
TO DECIDE WHAT ROLE YOU
WANT TO PLAY IN LIFE.
I'LL COME BACK
TO THAT.
ANYWAY, NOW IT'S TIME TO
ENTER OUR NOVEL
MISTER PIP.
LLOYD JONES TOLD ME THAT
IT HAD ITS GENESIS
OVER A VERY LONG PERIOD,
MORE THAN A DECADE.
THE BOUGAINVILLE REBELLION
ALWAYS IN THE BACK
OF HIS MIND.
BUT HE SAID, "I HAD TWO
IMAGES IN MY MIND.
ONE IS OF A ROOM WHERE
PEOPLE TELL STORIES."
HE SAID, "I'VE ALWAYS
BEEN FASCINATED BY
THE ORAL TRADITION."
THAT'S WHY, WHEN HE WENT
TO BOUGAINVILLE IN 2001,
HE SET UP STORY HOUSE,
WHERE ORAL TRADITION
COULD BE RECORDED.
SO HE HAD THE IMAGE OF
A ROOM WHERE PEOPLE
TELL STORIES.
THEN HE HAD ANOTHER
IMAGE, IN HIS MIND,
MORE THAN A
DECADE, A REVERSAL
OF THE COLONIAL
STEREOTYPE.
HE HAD AN IMAGE
OF A WHITE MAN
PULLING A
BLACK WOMAN,
THE SERVANT OF
A BLACK WOMAN.
THOSE TWO IMAGES, AND THE
BOUGAINVILLE REBELLION,
FINALLY CAME
TOGETHER IN 2007,
AND HE KNEW WHAT HE
SHOULD WRITE:
MISTER PIP.
AND THEN HE TOLD ME
I NEEDED A VOICE.
I'M QUOTING HIM.
HE SAID, "VOICE IS MUCH
MORE IMPORTANT THAN PLOT.
IT IS THE NARRATIVE VOICE
THAT CARRIES THE READER
INTO THE STORY,
NOT THE PLOT."
AND HE USED, I THOUGHT A
VERY INTERESTING EXAMPLE.
HE SAID, "YOU
KNOW YOUR KAFKA?"
I SAID, I THINK SO.
HE SAID,
"METAMORPHOSIS."
HE SAID, "THE STORY BEGINS
BY A MAN WAKING UP
AND FINDING HIMSELF A GIANT
SIX-FOOT COCKROACH.
ABSURD!"
BUT THE VOICE, THE PERSON
TELLING THE STORY
IS SO COMPELLING THAT WE
ARE TAKEN INTO THE STORY,
AND WE MOVE THROUGH
THE STORY INTO NEW
AND INTERESTING
PLACES.
HE SAID, "VOICE
IS EVERYTHING."
AND I THOUGHT ABOUT
THAT A GREAT DEAL.
I THOUGHT OF
THE CLASSICS.
I THOUGHT OF
MOBY DICK.
HOW DOES IT BEGIN?
"CALL ME ISHMAEL."
AND THE VOICE CALLS
US INTO THE STORY,
AND WE ARE
CARRIED ALONG.
DICKENS, I SAID, WHY
DID YOU CHOOSE A GIRL,
MATILDA, TO
TELL THE STORY?
HE SAID, "DICKENS
CHOSE A BOY, PIP,
TO TELL
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS."
SO - AND I QUOTE HIM,
"I'M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR
A NEW WAY TO TELL A
STORY, SO I CHOSE A GIRL."
NOW, THE STORY OF
MISTER PIP
IS,
OF COURSE, A STORY TOLD BY
AN ADULT FROM MEMORY.
THE ADULT IS
MATILDA LAMO.
MATILDA LAMO IS A
BLACK BOUGAINVILLEAN.
BORN AN ONLY CHILD
IN A VILLAGE
OF ABOUT 60 PEOPLE,
LIVING IN 30 SIMPLE HUTS.
WHEN SHE BEGINS
TO TELL HER STORY,
AS SHE REMEMBERS IT,
SHE IS 13 YEARS OLD.
SHE LIVES WITH
HER MOTHER.
SHE'S AN ONLY CHILD.
TWO YEARS BEFORE THE NOVEL
BEGINS, WHEN SHE WAS 11,
IN 1988, '89, HER FATHER,
WHO HAD WORKED
AS A STOREMAN FOR THE MINING
COMPANY ON BOUGAINVILLE,
HE WAS A BLACK
BOUGAINVILLEAN,
HAD BEEN OFFERED A BETTER
JOB IN QUEENSLAND,
AUSTRALIA, AND HE
LEFT BOUGAINVILLE,
GONE DOWN TO
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA,
TO WORK FOR THE
MINING COMPANY THERE.
HE HAD GONE TO PREPARE A
WAY, A HOME FOR HIS WIFE,
DOLORES, AND THEIR
LITTLE GIRL, MATILDA.
BUT THEN IN 1990,
BOUGAINVILLE DECLARED
ITS INDEPENDENCE, THE
EMBARGO WAS IMPOSED,
AND MATILDA AND HER
MOTHER WERE LEFT ISOLATED
ON THE ISLAND.
THERE WERE VERY FEW MEN
LEFT IN THE VILLAGE.
SOME HAD LEFT WITH THEIR
WHITE AUSTRALIAN BOSSES,
AND OTHERS HAD GONE
TO JOIN THE REBELS
IN THE BOUGAINVILLE
MOUNTAINS.
IN THE MEANTIME, THE
VILLAGE HAS REVERTED
TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE
THE WHITE MAN EVER CAME.
WHEN MATILDA'S STORY
BEGINS, IN 1991,
WE ARE IN THE SECOND
YEAR OF THE REBELLION.
NOW, MATILDA'S VILLAGE
ON BOUGAINVILLE
IS SO SMALL THAT NO
GOVERNMENT FORCES,
THE RED-SKIN SOLDIERS, HAD
EVER BOTHERED TO VISIT IT.
THE CHILDREN DO HEAR
OCCASIONAL GUNFIRE
FROM FAR OFF, AND
NOW AND AGAIN,
THEY SEE HELICOPTERS
FAR, FAR UP IN THE SKY
GOING OUT, AND THEY SEE
THE FIGURES FALLING
INTO THE SEA AS THE
REBELS ARE MURDERED.
BUT IN GENERAL,
FOR THE CHILDREN,
LIFE IS TIMELESS, AND
THEY ARE SURROUNDED
BY ABUNDANCE.
I QUOTE MATILDA.
"BOUGAINVILLE IS ONE OF THE
MOST FERTILE PLACES ON EARTH.
DROP A SEED IN THE SOIL,
AND THREE MONTHS LATER
IT IS A PLANT WITH
SHINY GREEN LEAVES.
THREE MONTHS AFTER THAT,
WE ARE PICKING THE FRUIT."
APART FROM THE
CYCLE OF NATURE,
ONE DAY SEEMS MUCH
LIKE ANY OTHER.
LIVES ARE GOVERNED BY
THE SIMPLE TRUTHS
OF THE BIBLE.
MATILDA'S MOTHER, DOLORES,
HAS ONE TREASURED POSSESSION,
A BIBLE IN PIDGIN
ENGLISH.
ALTHOUGH MATILDA'S FATHER
HAD WORKED FOR THE MINING
COMPANY, SHE HAS SEEN
VERY FEW WHITE PEOPLE,
APART FROM ONE GUY WHO
LIVES JUST OUTSIDE
THE VILLAGE, WE'LL
COME TO HIM,
AND THE OCCASIONAL
MINING EMPLOYEE.
SHE REMEMBERS, "I'D SEEN
VERY FEW LIVING WHITES."
BUT SHE DOES KNOW
ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE
OF THE WHITE PEOPLE WHO
RUN THE COPPER MINE,
WHERE HER FATHER AND
OTHER ISLANDERS WORKED.
SHE ALSO HAS A
GENERAL SENSE
THAT WHITE IS
BETTER THAN BLACK.
I QUOTE HER.
"WE HAD GROWN UP BELIEVING
WHITE TO BE THE COLOUR
OF ALL THE IMPORTANT
THINGS LIKE ICE CREAM,
ASPIRIN, RIBBON, THE
MOON, THE STARS."
SHE KNOWS SHE IS CALLED
MATILDA BECAUSE HER FATHER
HAD WANTED TO PLEASE
HIS AUSTRALIAN BOSSES.
BUT AFTER THE WHITE
PERSONNEL ARE EVACUATED
IN 1990, THERE IS NO ONE
AROUND WHO MIGHT CAUSE HER
TO FEEL INFERIOR, AS
HER FRIEND DANIEL SAYS LATE IN THE NOVEL, QUOTE,
"WE ONLY FEEL BLACK
AROUND WHITE PEOPLE."
I THOUGHT THAT
VERY PERCEPTIVE,
AND I'LL COME
BACK TO THAT.
COMPARE THE PRESENT DAY
FEELING OF INFERIORITY
TO THE REACTION OF THE
ISLANDERS WHEN THEY FIRST SAW
WHITE PEOPLE, TWO,
THREE GENERATIONS BEFORE.
I QUOTE MATILDA, "WHEN OUR
ANCESTORS SAW THE FIRST
WHITE, THEY THOUGHT THEY
WERE LOOKING AT GHOSTS,
OR MAYBE SOMEONE WHO
WAS DOWN ON HIS LUCK."
NOW, FROM SEEING
WHITES AS UNFORTUNATE,
DEAD OR UNLUCKY, TO
SEEING THEM AS SUPERIOR
BEINGS, HAS ONLY TAKEN
A FEW GENERATIONS.
AND THAT SET ME TO
THINKING ABOUT HOW RACIAL
RACIST ATTITUDES DEVELOP.
AND HOW ONCE DEVELOPED,
HOW DIFFICULT
THEY ARE TO ERADICATE.
I HAVE SEEN THIS NOVEL
DESCRIBED, I THINK FAIRLY,
AS AN EXCELLENT STUDY
OF POST-COLONIAL
RACIAL ATTITUDES.
I SAID A LITTLE EARLIER
THAT ALL THE WHITES
HAD BEEN EVACUATED
FROM THE ISLAND,
BUT THERE IS
ONE EXCEPTION.
THERE IS ONE WHITE MAN
LIVING ON THE ISLAND.
HE LIVES JUST OUTSIDE
MATILDA'S VILLAGE.
I'M REFERRING TO
Mr. TOM WATTS,
POPULARLY KNOWN
AS POPEYE.
HE HAS A BLACK WIFE.
HER NAME IS GRACE.
WE LEARN LATER THAT SHE
WAS A BOUGAINVILLEAN GIRL,
A LOCAL GIRL,
WHO LEFT THE ISLAND.
SHE GOT A SCHOLARSHIP.
WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG,
SHE LEFT TO TAKE UP
A SCHOLARSHIP IN
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA.
AND THEN SHE WENT FROM
BOUGAINVILLE TO BRISBANE,
THEN DOWN TO NEW
ZEALAND TO WELLINGTON,
NEW ZEALAND, TO
DENTAL SCHOOL,
TO BECOME A TECHNICIAN.
BUT BEFORE SHE
QUALIFIED, SHE CAME BACK
TO THE ISLAND WITH
A WHITE HUSBAND.
AND SHE ALSO CAME
BACK, I QUOTE THE WORD,
"DIFFERENT."
GRACE, AND HER HUSBAND
TOM WATTS, POPEYE,
LIVE ALMOST AS HERMITS.
BUT THEY MAKE AN
ALMOST DAILY PROMENADE
AROUND THE ISLAND IN AN
ASTONISHING TABLEAU.
IT'S A WONDERFUL SIGHT.
POPEYE, Mr. WATTS, WEARS A
FILTHY WHITE LINEN SUIT,
AND A FALSE RED
CLOWN'S NOSE GLUED ON.
AND HE PULLS BEHIND HIM A
TROLLEY, WHERE HIS WIFE,
A TRADITIONALLY
BUILT WOMAN,
STANDS UNDER A BLUE
PARASOL HOLDING ON
TO TWO RAILS.
AND ALMOST EVERY DAY, THIS
WHITE GUY PULLS
HIS REGAL WIFE
AROUND THE VILLAGE.
THE CHILDREN FIND
IT MARVELLOUS.
I QUOTE MATILDA, "IT
REPRESENTED A BIT OF
UNCERTAINTY FOR US
CHILDREN WHEN OUR WORLD
IN EVERY WAY SEEMED
THE SAME EVERY DAY."
THE CHILDREN CALLED
THE MAN TOM WATTS
POPEYE, BECAUSE MATILDA
REMEMBERS, "HE LOOKS LIKE
SOMEONE WHO HAD SEEN OR
KNOWN GREAT SUFFERING."
AND HE HADN'T BEEN
ABLE TO FORGET IT.
HIS LARGE EYES,
IN HIS LARGE HEAD,
STUCK OUT FURTHER
THAN ANYONE ELSE'S.
BUT THE CHILDREN
DON'T LAUGH AT HIM.
I QUOTE, "BECAUSE YOU HAD
NEVER SEEN SUCH SADNESS."
HIS WIFE, GRACE WATTS,
IS ANOTHER MATTER.
SHE IS BLACK LIKE THEM.
AND SHE IS KNOWN TO HAVE
BEEN BORN A LOCAL GIRL.
AND THE CHILDREN DON'T
HOLD BACK THEIR LAUGHTER.
MATILDA REMEMBERS
THAT GRACE WATTS
STANDING SO REGALLY ON HER
TROLLEY, AND I QUOTE,
"HAD A BUM SO BIG YOU
WORRIED ABOUT
THE TOILET SEAT."

[laughter]

Robert continues THE VILLAGERS ALL ASSUMED
GRACE WATTS IS QUITE MAD.
BUT ABOUT POPEYE,
TOM WATTS,
THEY ARE NOT SO SURE.
SOME SAY HIS ACTIONS ARE
THE RESULT OF A LOST BET.
SOME SAY HE IS DOING
PENANCE FOR A CRIME.
BUT HE REALLY REMAINS
A MYSTERY BECAUSE,
AS MATILDA REMEMBERS,
"HE HAD COME OUT
OF A WHITE WORLD WE
DIDN'T KNOW."
I LOVE THE MYSTERY OF TOM
WATTS PULLING HIS WIFE
GRACE, STANDING
ON THE TROLLEY.
IT SEEMED TO ME
VERY DICKENSIAN.
DICKENS, YOU REMEMBER,
LOVED TO START
HIS NOVELS WITH
A MYSTERY.
WE READ ON TO FIND THE
ANSWER AND THE VOICE
HAS US IN ITS SPELL.
YOU REMEMBER, PERHAPS,
TALE OF TWO CITIES.
AT THE BEGINNING OF
TALE OF TWO CITIES,
WE HAVE THE EXPRESSION,
RECALLED TO LIFE.
RECALLED TO LIFE.
AND IT ISN'T FOR MANY
PAGES THAT WE ARE TOLD
WHAT THAT
EXPRESSION MEANS.
AND SIMILARLY, WE DO
NOT KNOW THE MYSTERY,
DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE
MYSTERY OF TOM WATTS
AND HIS WIFE UNTIL NEARLY
THE END OF THE NOVEL.
AND THEN COMES THE MOMENT
WHEN POPEYE BECOMES
MORE THAN JUST AN INTERRUPTION
IN THE MONOTONY OF LIFE.
MATILDA'S MOTHER,
DOLORES LAMO,
RUSHES IN TO HER DAUGHTER
AND SAYS, "GET UP, GET UP,
GET UP, IT'S
TIME FOR SCHOOL!
POPEYE IS GOING
TO TEACH YOU KIDS."
THE DAY IS
DECEMBER 10, 1991
NEARLY TWO YEARS
AFTER THE REBELLION,
NEARLY TWO YEARS AFTER
THE EMBARGO BEGAN,
NEARLY TWO YEARS
AFTER THE WHITES,
INCLUDING THE TEACHERS,
WERE EVACUATED,
NEARLY TWO YEARS AFTER
THE JUNGLE HAD BEGUN
TO ENCROACH UPON THE
LITTLE VILLAGE SCHOOL.
POPEYE WATTS HAS
CHOSEN TO BECOME
THE VILLAGE TEACHER.
I WAS A TEACHER
FOR 36 YEARS.
I TAUGHT EVERY LEVEL
FROM GRADE SEVEN
TO FOURTH-YEAR
UNIVERSITY.
AND I AM IN AWE,
JEALOUS AWE,
OF THE WAY TOM WATTS
INTRODUCED HIMSELF
TO THE CHILDREN.
ON THE FIRST
MEETING, HE SAID,
"I WANT THIS PLACE TO
BE A PLACE OF LIGHT,
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.
WE MUST CLEAR THIS SPACE
AND MAKE IT READY
FOR LEARNING.
MAKE IT NEW AGAIN.
I WANT YOU TO
UNDERSTAND SOMETHING,
I AM NO TEACHER, BUT
I WILL DO MY BEST.
THAT IS MY PROMISE
TO YOU CHILDREN.
I BELIEVE THAT WITH
YOUR PARENTS' HELP,
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
IN OUR LIVES.
I WILL BE HONEST
WITH YOU.
I HAVE NO WISDOM,
NONE AT ALL.
THE TRUEST THING I CAN
TELL YOU IS THAT WHATEVER
WE HAVE BETWEEN US
IS ALL WE'VE GOT."
IN ALL MY CAREER, I
NEVER SAID ANYTHING
AS BEAUTIFUL AND AS
SINCERE AND AS TRUE AS THAT
TO ANY STUDENT.
AND THEN POPEYE SAYS TO THE CHILDREN,
"TOMORROW, YOU WILL
MEET Mr. DICKENS."
CHILDREN ARE
ALWAYS SO LITERAL.
AND ALL CHILDREN RUN HOME
TO TELL THEIR PARENTS,
THEIR MOTHERS, THAT
NEXT DAY THERE WILL BE
ANOTHER WHITE MAN.
THEY ARE GOING TO
MEET Mr. DICKENS.
AND THEY ALL
COME TO SCHOOL.
THE NEXT DAY COMES, AND
THERE IS ONLY POPEYE WATTS.
AND AFTER A LONG
PAUSE, A LONG SILENCE,
HE BEGINS TO READ
FROM A BOOK,
I QUOTE,
"MY FATHER'S FAMILY
NAME BEING PIRRIP,
AND MY FIRST NAME PHILIP,
MY INFANT TONGUE COULD
MAKE OF NEITHER
NAME ANYTHING
MORE EXPLICIT
THAN PIP.
SO I CALLED
MYSELF PIP.
AND I BECAME
KNOWN AS PIP."
Mr. WATTS READS ON.
AND AFTER HE FINISHES,
HE TELLS THE CHILDREN,
"THAT WAS CHAPTER ONE OF
GREAT EXPECTATIONS,
WHICH IS THE GREATEST
NOVEL OF THE 19TH CENTURY
BY THE GREATEST ENGLISH
WRITER, CHARLES DICKENS."
AND HE CONTINUES.
"WHEN YOU READ THE WORK
OF A GREAT WRITER,
YOU ARE MAKING THE
ACQUAINTANCE OF THAT
WRITER, SO TO SPEAK.
SO YOU CAN SAY NOW THAT
YOU HAVE MET Mr. DICKENS,
BUT YOU DON'T KNOW
HIM YET."
THE CHILDREN, "WHEN
WILL WE KNOW HIM?
WHEN WILL WE KNOW HIM?"
"SOME OF YOU WILL
KNOW Mr. DICKENS
WHEN WE FINISH
THIS BOOK.
THE BOOK HAS
59 CHAPTERS.
IF I READ A CHAPTER
A DAY, YOU WILL
KNOW Mr. DICKENS
IN 59 DAYS."
I QUICKLY CALCULATED.
WE WOULD NOT KNOW
Mr. DICKENS
UNTIL FEBRUARY 6, 1992.
AGAIN, THAT DELIGHTFUL
LITERAL MIND OF A CHILD.
OUR AUTHOR, LLOYD JONES,
UNDERSTANDS VERY WELL
HOW A CHILD RECEIVES AND
PROCESSES INFORMATION
FROM THE WORLD
AROUND IT.
NOW, SINCE DICKENS' NOVEL,
GREAT EXPECTATIONS,
IS SO CENTRAL TO
MISTER PIP,
PERMIT ME A COUPLE
OF MINUTES TO REFRESH OUR
COLLECTIVE MEMORY.
THE STORY, BRIEFLY, VERY
BRIEFLY, AN ORPHAN BOY,
PIP, LIVES IN A COUNTRY
VILLAGE WITH HIS
MUCH OLDER SISTER.
HE'S AN ORPHAN.
SHE'S A BULLY, HIS SISTER,
BUT SHE'S MARRIED TO
A SAINTLY MAN, THE VILLAGE
BLACKSMITH, JOE GARGERY.
AS THE NOVEL BEGINS, PIP'S
FUTURE SEEMS CERTAIN.
HE WILL LIVE,
BECOME A BLACKSMITH,
AND DIE IN
THE VILLAGE.
HE IS A DELIGHTFUL
LITTLE BOY.
HE TAKES EVERYTHING
LITERALLY,
JUST LIKE THE CHILDREN
150 YEARS LATER
IN MATILDA'S VILLAGE.
HE OFTEN VISITS HIS
PARENTS' GRAVE.
AND FROM THE SHAPE OF THE
LETTERS ON HIS FATHER'S
TOMBSTONE, HE HAS
DECIDED THAT HIS FATHER
WAS A SHORT,
STOUT MAN.

[audience chuckles]

Robert continues ON ONE SUCH VISIT TO
THE DESERTED GRAVEYARD,
PIP IS SURPRISED BY
AN ESCAPED CONVICT
WHO LOOMS FROM
BEHIND A TOMBSTONE.
A MASSIVE FIGURE.
THE CONVICT WAS ABOUT
TO BE TRANSPORTED
TO AUSTRALIA.
THE COMMON SENTENCE
IN 19TH CENTURY
VICTORIAN ENGLAND:
YOU WERE TRANSPORTED
FOR LIFE,
OR PERHAPS ONLY 7
OR 12 OR 14 YEARS.
BUT ONCE YOU HAD SERVED
YOUR SENTENCE
IN AUSTRALIA, IT WAS
FORBIDDEN UNDER PAIN
OF DEATH, TO RETURN
TO ENGLAND.
THE ESCAPED CONVICT
DEMANDS THAT THE BOY
BRING HIM A FILE FOR
HIS CHAINS, AND FOOD.
AND HIS THREAT TO
THE BOY, IF THE BOY
DOES NOT SERVE HIM,
IS WONDERFUL.
PERMIT ME TO INDULGE
MYSELF FOR A MOMENT.
"YOU FAIL, OR YOU GO
FROM MY WORDS
IN ANY PARTICULAR NO
MATTER HOW SMALL,
AND YOUR HEART AND YOUR
LIVER SHALL BE TORE OUT
AND ROASTED AND ATE.
NOW, I AIN'T ALONE AS
YOU MAY THINK I AM.
THERE IS A YOUNG MAN HID
ALONGSIDE ME
IN COMPARISON WITH WHICH
YOUNG MAN I AM AN ANGEL.
AND THAT YOUNG MAN HEARS
EVERY WORD I SPEAK.
THAT YOUNG MAN
HAS A SECRET WAY,
PECULIAR TO HIMSELF,
OF GETTING AT A BOY,
AND AT HIS HEART,
AND AT HIS LIVER.
IT IS IN VAIN FOR A BOY
TO TRY TO HIDE HIMSELF
FROM THAT YOUNG MAN.
A BOY MAY THINK
HIMSELF SAFE IN BED.
HE MAY BE
COMFORTABLE IN BED.
HE MAY PULL UP THE
CLOTHES OVER HIS HEAD.
BUT THAT YOUNG MAN WILL
FIND A WAY TO CREEP
AND CREEP AND CREEP
HIS WAY TO THE BOY,
AND TEAR HIM OPEN.
NOW, THAT YOUNG MAN IS
LISTENING TO ME NOW,
AND I HAVE THE
GREATEST DIFFICULTY
IN STOPPING HIM
DOING YOU HARM."

[chuckling]

Robert continues I LOVE IT.
I LOVE IT,
I LOVE IT!

[Applause]

Robert continues NO ONE UNDERSTOOD THE
FEARS OF A CHILD,
PARTICULARLY AN ORPHAN
CHILD, LIKE DICKENS.
THE BOY, PIP, BRINGS THE
CONVICT FOOD, OF COURSE.
OF COURSE, IT
IS OUT OF FEAR,
BUT ALSO HE GIVES
IT WITH KINDNESS
AND PITY AND
COMPASSION.
CONVICT IS, OF
COURSE, RECAPTURED.
MUCH LATER, MUCH, MUCH
LATER, YEARS LATER,
THE BOY, PIP, IS
TAKEN UP BY CHANCE,
BY THE LOCAL RICH
ECCENTRIC LADY,
Miss HAVISHAM, AS A
PLAYMATE FOR HER WARD,
THE WILLFUL, BEAUTIFUL,
PROUD LITTLE GIRL, ESTELLA.
YEARS LATER, PIP IS TOLD
IN HIS ADOLESCENCE
BY A LAWYER FROM
LONDON, Mr. JAGGERS,
THAT HE HAS A
MYSTERIOUS BENEFACTOR,
THAT HE MAY LOOK FORWARD
TO
GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
THAT HE IS TO
GO UP TO LONDON,
LIVE ON A LIBERAL
ALLOWANCE PROVIDED
BY Mr. JAGGERS, AND
BECOME A GENTLEMAN.
PIP, OF COURSE, ASSUMES
THAT HIS MYSTERIOUS
BENEFACTOR IS THE
ECCENTRIC Miss HAVISHAM.
HE GOES UP TO LONDON
AND HE BECOMES
NOT A GENTLEMAN, BUT
A TERRIBLE SNOB.
AND THEN HORROR; ONE
NIGHT, IN HIS LODGINGS,

He taps and says THERE IS A KNOCK
ON HIS DOOR,
AND A TERRIBLE MAN
COMES TO SEE HIM.
AND THAT MAN IS THE
CONVICT, ABEL MAGWITCH.
HE HAS RETURNED,
ILLEGALLY FROM AUSTRALIA.
HE IS UNDER PAIN OF
DEATH IF HE IS CAUGHT.
AND HE TELLS PIP, "IT WAS
I WHO SENT THAT MONEY
ALL THOSE YEARS.
DIDN'T YOU EVER
THINK IT WAS ME?"
IT WAS MAGWITCH
WHO HAD SENT THE MONEY,
NOT Miss HAVISHAM.
IT WAS MAGWITCH WHO
WANTED PIP TO LEAVE
THE COUNTRYSIDE AND BECOME
A LONDON GENTLEMAN.
INITIALLY, PIP IS
REPULSED BY THE IDEA
THAT IT WAS A CONVICT
WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE
FOR HIS GOOD FORTUNE.
BUT PIP EVENTUALLY
LEARNS COMPASSION,
AND HE BECOMES THE
TRUE GENTLE MAN,
THE GENTLEMAN THAT MAGWITCH
HAD WANTED HIM TO BE.
MAGWITCH, OF
COURSE, IS ARRESTED.
VERY EXCITING.
HE IS SENTENCED TO DEATH
AS A RETURN TRANSPORTEE,
BUT HE IS BY NOW A
SICK AND DYING MAN.
HE IS CONFINED TO
THE PRISON HOSPITAL
FOR HIS LAST DAYS.
PIP STANDS BY HIM, AND
SPENDS EVERY MOMENT
PERMITTED AT
HIS BEDSIDE.
AND MAGWITCH'S DEATH
SCENE IS PERHAPS THE MOST
BEAUTIFUL, TOUCHING DEATH
SCENE I'M AWARE OF
IN ALL OF LITERATURE.
I KNOW THAT DICKENS
CAN BE SENTIMENTAL,
OVERLY SENTIMENTAL,
SACCHARIN SWEET,
BUT THERE IS SOMETHING
LOVELY AND ACHINGLY
BEAUTIFUL IN THE DEATH
SCENE OF MAGWITCH.
ONCE AGAIN, LET
ME INDULGE MYSELF.
MAGWITCH SPEAKING
FROM HIS BED,
IT'S HIS LAST
MOMENTS - "'DEAR BOY,
DEAR BOY, I THOUGHT
YOU WAS LATE,
BUT I KNOWS YOU
COULDN'T BE THAT.'
'OH, OH, IT WAS
JUST THE TIME.
I WAITED AT
THE GATE.'
'YOU ALWAYS WAIT AT THE
GATE, DON'T YOU, DEAR BOY?'
'YES, NOT TO LOSE A MOMENT
OF THE TIME WITH YOU.'
'THANK YE, DEAR BOY,
THANK YE, DEAR BOY,
GOD BLESS YE.
YOU NEVER DESERTED
ME, DEAR BOY.'
AND I WAS IN SILENCE
FOR I REMEMBERED
I HAD ONCE PLANNED
TO ABANDON HIM.
'WHAT'S BEST OF ALL?
YOU BE MORE COMFORTABLE
ALONGSIDE ME NOW I'M UNDER
A CLOUD, THAN WHEN I
WAS IN THE SUNSHINE.
THAT'S THE BEST
OF ALL, DEAR BOY.'
HE LAY ON HIS
BACK, BREATHING
WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY.
HE COULD SPEAK NO MORE.
'DEAR MAGWITCH, I MUST
TELL YOU, NOW,
AT LAST; DO YOU
UNDERSTAND ME?
DO YOU HEAR
WHAT I SAY?'
A GENTLE PRESSURE
ON MY HAND.
'YOU HAD A CHILD ONCE
WHOM YOU LOVED AND LOST.'
A STRONGER PRESSURE
ON MY HAND.
'SHE LIVED, AND FOUND
POWERFUL FRIENDS,
AND SHE IS
LIVING NOW.
SHE IS A LADY, AND
SHE IS BEAUTIFUL.
AND I LOVE HER.'
AND WITH A LAST EFFORT,
HE RAISED MY HAND
TO HIS LIPS.
AND HE FELL BACK,
AND HE DIED."
NOW, I HAVE TELESCOPED
SEVERAL PAGES
INTO THAT ONE
READING.
IF YOU READ THE DEATH
SCENE OF MAGWITCH,
AND YOU DO NOT WEEP,
THERE IS SOMETHING
WRONG WITH YOU.

[laughter]

Robert continues AS YOU KNOW,
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS
ENDS WITH PIP AND ESTELLA,
MAGWITCH'S DAUGHTER,
WALKING HAND IN HAND OUT
OF THE OVERGROWN GARDEN
OF THE LONG-DEAD
Miss HAVISHAM,
WALKING OUT INTO
THE SUNLIGHT.
NOW, IF THAT BOOK HAS
THAT EFFECT ON ME
AFTER ALL THESE YEARS,
CAN YOU IMAGINE
WHAT IT DID TO AN IMAGINATIVE
13-YEAR-OLD CHILD?
THAT IS THE STORY
THAT MATILDA HEARD
ONE CHAPTER AT A TIME.
THE STORY OF A LITTLE
BOY, POOR IN A VILLAGE,
WHOM CHANCE LED TO
WEALTH IN LONDON.
WEALTH THAT INITIALLY MADE
HIM NO MORE THAN A SNOB,
BUT THEN OF HIS
OWN FREE CHOICE,
OUT OF HIS OWN
INNER RESOURCES,
PIP CHOSE TO BE A GOOD
MAN, A GENTLE MAN.
THE EFFECT OF THE
BOOK ON MATILDA
WAS OVERWHELMING FROM
THE VERY BEGINNING.
I QUOTE, "BY THE TIME
Mr. WATTS HAD REACHED
THE END OF CHAPTER ONE,
I FELT LIKE I HAD BEEN
SPOKEN TO BY
THIS BOY, PIP.
THIS BOY WHOM I
COULDN'T SEE TO TOUCH,
BUT KNEW BY EAR, I HAD
FOUND A NEW FRIEND."
MATILDA IS Mr. WATTS'
STAR PUPIL,
BUT ALL THE CHILDREN
FEEL AS SHE DOES.
QUOTE, "WE COULD ESCAPE
TO ANOTHER PLACE.
IT DIDN'T MATTER THAT IT
WAS VICTORIAN ENGLAND."
BECAUSE FOR ALL
THE CHILDREN,
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
CONTAINED A WORLD
THAT WAS WHOLE,
THAT MADE SENSE,
NOT LIKE THEIR OWN LITTLE
WORLD TORN BY CIVIL WAR.
MATILDA BEGINS TO SEE
HER MOTHER, DOLORES,
LIKE DICKENS' ECCENTRIC
Miss HAVISHAM.
EACH OF THE WOMEN SEEM
TRAPPED IN A DAY
OF DISAPPOINTMENT.
Miss HAVISHAM, WHEN
HER FIANCEE DIDN'T
TURN UP AT THE ALTAR.
DOLORES, THE DAY HER
HUSBAND LEFT FOR AUSTRALIA.
I MUST ADMIT THAT WHEN I
FIRST READ THIS NOVEL,
I WONDERED FOR
A FEW MINUTES,
HOW A YOUNG GIRL IN 1991,
1992, IN BOUGAINVILLE,
COULD ENTER SO COMPLETELY
INTO THE 19TH CENTURY
VICTORIAN WORLD OF
CHARLES DICKENS'
GREAT EXPECTATIONS,
BUT
THEN I READ AN ARTICLE
LAST YEAR IN
THE NEW
YORKER,
AUGUST 25, 2008.
IT WAS AN INTERVIEW WITH
A YOUNG BURMESE MAN
IN RANGOON, NOW, WHAT
IS IT, YANGON.
AND THAT YOUNG MAN WAS
BEING INTERVIEWED.
AND THAT YOUNG MAN WAS
ADDICTED TO DICKENS
IN THAT POVERTY
STRICKEN CITY.
HE HAS TO RENT SECONDHAND
PAPERBACKS FROM A STALL.
IT WOULD BE THE STALL ON
PANSODAN ROAD MARKET.
I KNOW THE STALL WHERE
YOU CAN RENT A BOOK
FOR A FEW PENNIES.
HE COULDN'T AFFORD
TO BUY BOOKS.
HE IS ADDICTED
TO DICKENS.
HE TOLD THE INTERVIEWER,
REFERRING TO HIS LOVE
OF DICKENS' NOVELS;
I QUOTE HIM,
"ALL OF THE
CHARACTERS ARE ME,"
SAID THIS YOUNG
BURMESE MAN.
"NO BRITISH, NO AMERICAN
YOUNG MAN LIVING
IN THE 21ST CENTURY CAN
UNDERSTAND DICKENS
AS WELL AS I CAN.
I AM LIVING IN A
DICKENSIAN ATMOSPHERE.
MY COUNTRY IS AT LEAST
ONE OR TWO CENTURIES
BEHIND THE
WESTERN WORLD.
THE WORLD OF
DICKENS IS MY WORLD."
"MY NEIGHBOURHOOD, BLEAK,
POOR, THAT IS DICKENS.
I AM MORE EQUIPPED TO
UNDERSTAND DICKENS
THAN I CAN UNDERSTAND
ANY MODERN NOVEL."
IT IS TRUE OF HIM, IT
IS TRUE OF MATILDA.
SO ENAMOURED IS MATILDA
OF HER NEW FRIEND PIP,
THAT SHE DRAWS HIS NAME
IN THE SAND ON THE BEACH
ABOVE THE HIGH
WATERMARK,
SO THAT THE SEA WILL
NOT WASH HIS NAME AWAY.
AND SHE DECORATES THE
NAME PIP WITH SEASHELLS.
SHE MAKES IT A
KIND OF SHRINE.
THE CHILDREN ARE ALL
ENTRANCED BY POPEYE'S READING.
AND THEIR MOTHERS
GROW CURIOUS.
AND Mr. WATTS INVITES
THEM INTO THE CLASSROOM
TO SHARE THEIR WISDOM,
THEIR ORAL TRADITION.
SOME MOTHER SPEAK BRIEFLY,
SOME SPEAK AT LENGTH.
LITTLE DANIEL,
MATILDA'S FRIEND,
HIS GRANDMOTHER SPEAKS
BEAUTIFULLY, I THOUGHT,
OF THE COLOUR BLUE.
I QUOTE, "'BLUE IS THE
COLOUR OF THE PACIFIC.
IT IS THE AIR
WE BREATHE.
BLUE IS THE GAP IN THE AIR
BETWEEN ALL THIN ROOFS
AND PALM TREES.
THANK YOU GOD, FOR GIVING
US THE COLOUR BLUE.
AND BLUE HAS
MAGICAL POWERS.
WHEN THE BLUE SEA HITS A
REEF, WHITE COMES FORTH.
HOW DOES IT DO THAT?'
SOME MOTHERS TALK ABOUT AN
ISLAND WHERE THE CHILDREN
SIT IN A STONE CANOE
AND LEARN SACRED SONGS.
WE HEARD THAT YOU
CAN SING A SONG
TO MAKE AN ORANGE
TREE GROW.
WE HEARD ABOUT SONGS
THAT WORK LIKE MEDICINE
TO CURE SORES AND
BOILS AND HICCUPS.
WE LEARNED ABOUT REMEDIES
SUCH AS PLACING
THE LEAVES OF WHITE
LILIES ON SORES.
SOME STORIES WILL HELP YOU
FIND HAPPINESS AND TRUTH,
AND SOME STORIES
WILL TEACH YOU
NOT TO REPEAT A
MISTAKE."
THE CHILDREN ARE CAUGHT
BETWEEN THE PRACTICAL
ORAL FOLK TRADITION, THE ORAL
WISDOM OF THEIR MOTHERS,
AND THE SECULAR
IMAGINATION OF DICKENS' NOVEL.
MATILDA'S MOTHER IS
WORRIED THAT SHE MIGHT
LOSE HER BELOVED MATILDA
TO PIP, TO TOM WATTS,
TO DICKENS, TO
VICTORIAN ENGLAND.
SHE IS CONCERNED THAT
POPEYE PROFESSES
NO RELIGIOUS FAITH.
SHE SAYS, I QUOTE, "POPEYE
SHOULD BE TEACHING YOU
KIDS PROPER BEHAVIOUR.
I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING
THAT HAPPENS IN THAT BOOK.
YOU HEAR ME, MATILDA?"
AND THEN MATILDA'S
MOTHER COMES TO JOIN
THE OTHER MOTHERS
AT THE SCHOOL,
NOT TO OFFER HER
ORAL TRADITION,
BUT TO CONFRONT
POPEYE.
SHE CHALLENGES
HIM DIRECTLY,
"AND GOD SAID LET
THERE BE LIGHT,
AND THERE WAS LIGHT!
THERE IS NO SENTENCE
IN YOUR BOOK
AS BEAUTIFUL AS THAT."
SHE CONTINUES.
"SOME WHITE FELLAS DO NOT
BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL OR GOD.
BUT WE PACK THE GOOD
BOOK INTO OUR PERSONS."
MATILDA, NOW AN ADULT,
RECALLING HER LIFE,
SEES HER MOTHER
ACCURATELY, I QUOTE.
"MY MOTHER COULD NOT
SEE WHAT US KIDS
HAD COME TO SEE:
A KIND MAN.
SHE SAW ONLY A
WHITE MAN.
AND WHITE MEN HAD STOLEN
HER HUSBAND, MY FATHER.
WHITE MEN WERE TO
BLAME FOR THE MINE
AND THE BLOCKADE.
A WHITE MAN HAD GIVEN US
THE NAME OF OUR ISLAND.
WHITE MEN HAD
GIVEN ME MY NAME."
MATILDA FEELS CAUGHT
BETWEEN HER MOTHER
AND BIBLE SHE LOVES,
AND Mr. WATTS
AND THE
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS
HE LOVES.
SHE COMES TO IDENTIFY MORE
AND MORE STRONGLY WITH PIP.
SHE THINKS ABOUT
THE NOVEL.
SHE THINKS BEFORE THE
LAWYER Mr. JAGGERS
CAME TO SEE PIP WITH
THE NEWS OF HIS
GREAT EXPECTATIONS, PIP
WAS CAUGHT IN THE SPACE
BETWEEN HIS
TERRIBLE SISTER,
AND HER SAINTLY
HUSBAND, JOE GARGERY.
MATILDA SAYS, QUOTE,
"THE SAME SPACE CAME
TO EXIST BETWEEN
Mr. WATTS AND MY MUM."
AND THEN, THE OUTSIDE
WORLD INTERVENES,
AND BRUTALITY BEGINS TO
COUNTERBALANCE
WHAT HAS BEEN ALMOST
A FAIRY STORY.
GOVERNMENT TROOPS
LAND BY HELICOPTER.
FIRST, THEY VANDALIZE
THE VILLAGE,
THEN THEY DEMAND
TO SEE PIP.
"PRODUCE PIP!"
THEY HAVE SEEN THE
NAME ON THE BEACH.
THEY THINK IT IS ONE
REBEL LEADER
SIGNALING TO ANOTHER.
Mr. WATTS TRIES
TO EXPLAIN.
"Mr. PIP IS A CHARACTER IN
A BOOK BY Mr. DICKENS."
THE OFFICER IN CHARGE,
"SHOW ME THE BOOK."
BUT THEY CANNOT
FIND THE BOOK.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
HAS DISAPPEARED.
THE GOVERNMENT TROOPS,
UNDER THEIR OFFICER, LEAVE.
BUT THEY PROMISE
TO RETURN,
AT WHICH TIME THE BOOK,
OR PIP, OR Mr. DICKENS,
MUST BE PRODUCED.
IN THE DAYS THAT FOLLOW,
POPEYE AND THE CHILDREN
TRY TO REPRODUCE THE NOVEL
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
FROM MEMORY.
EACH CHILD OFFERS
THE FRAGMENT
HE OR SHE REMEMBERS.
POPEYE COPIES THE
FRAGMENTS DOWN
INTO AN EXERCISE BOOK.
IT'S A FASCINATING
EXERCISE.
EACH CHILD HAS SEIZED
ON A DIFFERENT FRAGMENT,
A DIFFERENT POINT.
THE STORY HAD COME TO MEAN
SOMETHING DIFFERENT
FOR EACH OF THEM.
THE ADULT MATILDA
REMEMBERING, REFLECTS,
QUOTE, "Mr. DICKENS
HAD TAUGHT EVERY ONE
OF US KIDS THAT OUR
VOICE WAS SPECIAL.
AND THAT WHATEVER ELSE
HAPPENED TO US IN OUR LIVES,
OUR VOICE COULD
NEVER BE TAKEN FROM US."
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT
TROOPS HAVE GONE,
THE REDSKINS HAVE GONE,
THE REBELS TURN UP.
COME DOWN FROM
THE MOUNTAINS.
THEY ARE THE
GOOD GUYS.
THE VILLAGERS CALL
THEM THE RAMBOS.
HEROES THAT
FIGHT FOR GOOD.
INITIALLY, THEY ARE
SUSPICIOUS OF TOM WATTS,
POPEYE, THE WHITE MAN.
BUT LIKE THE CHILDREN,
THEY FALL UNDER THE SPELL
OF POPEYE'S
STORYTELLING MAGIC.
EVERY EVENING,
LIKE SCHEHERAZADE,
HE TELLS THEM
A STORY.
HE DOESN'T HAVE THE NOVEL
GREAT EXPECTATIONS,
SO HE TELLS THEM
HIS OWN LIFE STORY.
I QUOTE, "HOW HE WAS
ORPHANED VERY YOUNG.
HOW HE WAS BEFRIENDED,
AS A CHILD,
BY AN ECCENTRIC OLD
LADY WHO HAD BEEN LEFT
AT THE ALTAR."
DOES THAT
RING A BELL?
AND THEN, IT
CHANGES.
HE TELLS THEM HOW THAT
ECCENTRIC LADY HAD DIED,
AND SHE LEFT HIM
HER GREAT HOUSE.
AND HE HAD CONVERTED
IT INTO APARTMENTS.
AND INTO ONE OF THE
APARTMENTS A BEAUTIFUL
YOUNG BOUGAINVILLEAN
BLACK GIRL CALLED GRACE,
HAD COME TO LIVE.
AND THEY HAD
FALLEN IN LOVE.
AND THEY HAD
MARRIED.
AND IN THEIR APARTMENT,
THEY HAD CONVERTED
ONE ROOM INTO A
STORY ROOM.
WHERE THEY WROTE ON THE
WALLS THEIR DREAMS
AND THEIR STORIES, AND
THEIR ASPIRATIONS,
AND THE HISTORIES
OF THEIR FAMILY,
AS THEY KNEW IT FROM
THE ORAL TRADITION.
AND HOW THEY HAD
HAD A LITTLE GIRL.
AND HOW THAT LITTLE GIRL
HAD DIED OF MENINGITIS.
AND AFTER THE DEATH OF
THAT LITTLE GIRL, HOW HE,
TOM WATTS, HAD BROUGHT
GRACE BACK TO HER NATIVE
ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE.
AND THE REBELS ARE
FASCINATED BY THE STORY.
EVENTUALLY, THEY FADE
BACK INTO THE JUNGLE,
BACK UP INTO
THE MOUNTAINS,
AND SHORTLY AFTER, GRACE
WATTS PASSES AWAY.
NOW, TOM WATTS
IS ALONE.
HE IS FREE.
NO LONGER HAS TO PULL HIS
WIFE AROUND THE VILLAGE.
NOW, FACING THE CIVIL
WAR ON THE ISLAND,
HE PLANS TO ESCAPE ON A
LOCAL FISHERMAN'S BOAT.
HE WILL ESCAPE
FROM BOUGAINVILLE,
DOWN TO THE
SOLOMON ISLANDS.
HE PLANS TO TAKE WITH
HIM HIS STAR PUPIL,
MATILDA, AND MATILDA'S
MOTHER, DOLORES,
AND OTHER ISLANDERS.
BUT BEFORE HIS PLAN
CAN GO INTO EFFECT,
THE GOVERNMENT
TROOPS RETURN,
THE REDSKINS RETURN,
FOR WHAT IS THE CLIMAX
OF THE NOVEL.
THEY HAVE WITH
THEM A WOUNDED,
TORTURED REBEL WHO
IDENTIFIES THE WHITE MAN,
POPEYE, TOM
WATTS, "HE IS PIP!"
DESPITE WHAT YOU HEAR ON
SOME AMERICAN TALK SHOWS,
TORTURE IS A NOTORIOUSLY
UNRELIABLE WAY OF GETTING
INFORMATION BECAUSE YOU
WILL SAY ANYTHING
TO STOP THE PAIN.
THE REBEL SAYS,
"THAT IS PIP."
AND Mr. WATTS ACCEPTS
THE IDENTIFICATION.
"YES, I AM PIP.
I AM Mr. DICKENS."
IMPLICIT IN HIS
ACCEPTANCE,
IN HIS IDENTIFICATION IS
HIS KNOWLEDGE THAT THE
REDSKINS, THE GOVERNMENT
TROOPS NEED A SCAPEGOAT
OR THE VILLAGE WILL DIE.
HE OFFERS HIMSELF, AND
HE IS CHOPPED TO PIECES,
AND HIS BODY
FED TO PIGS.
IT'S A TERRIBLE
SCENE.
ANOTHER COUNTERBALANCE
TO THE DELICACY
OF THE BULK OF
THE NOVEL.
AND THEN THE OFFICER IN
CHARGE OF THE REDSKINS,
THE GOVERNMENT TROOPS,
FEARFUL THAT WORD SHOULD
LEAK OUT, WORD SHOULD
REACH AUSTRALIA,
THEIR POWERFUL NEIGHBOUR,
THAT A WHITE MAN
HAD BEEN KILLED, HE PUTS A
QUESTION TO THE WATCHING
CROWD, WHO HAVE BEEN MADE
TO WATCH THE EXECUTION,
"WHO SAW THIS?"
WHAT HE REALLY MEANT WAS,
WHO WILL REPORT
SEEING THIS IF ASKED?
AND A LITTLE BOY, LITERAL
AS WE HAVE SEEN CHILDREN
TO BE, "OOH,
OOH, I SAW THIS."
AND THE LITTLE BOY IS
TAKEN AWAY TO BE SKINNED
ALIVE AS AN EXAMPLE.
AND THEN, MATILDA'S
MOTHER, DOLORES,
DOLORES LAMO
STEPS FORWARD.
"SIR, I SAW YOUR MEN
CHOP UP THE WHITE MAN.
HE WAS A GOOD MAN.
I AM HERE AS
GOD'S WITNESS."
SHE IS GANG RAPED IN
FRONT OF HER DAUGHTER,
AND THEN SHE IS
CHOPPED TO PIECES,
AND SHE IS
FED TO PIGS.
A FATE SHE MUST
HAVE ANTICIPATED
WHEN SHE DECIDED TO
BEAR WITNESS.
HER DECISION TO HONOUR
Mr. WATTS, QUOTE,
"HE WAS A GOOD MAN," IS
ALL THE MORE REMARKABLE
BECAUSE WE FIND OUT THAT
IT WAS SHE WHO STOLE
THE NOVEL,
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS,
AND HID IT IN THE
ROOF OF HER HUT.
SHE COULDN'T REVEAL
ITS WHEREABOUTS EVER
BECAUSE THAT WOULD
MEAN TWO THINGS:
FIRST, SHE WOULD HAVE TO
ADMIT TO BEING A THIEF;
AND SECOND, AND MORE
IMPORTANT, SHE SAW -
DOLORES SAW HER
CONFRONTATION WITH Mr. WATTS
IN TERMS OF AN
EPIC STRUGGLE BETWEEN
HER BIBLE AND HIS BOOK.
AND SHE COULDN'T PERMIT
HER BIBLE TO LOSE.
WE SEE POLITICAL AND
RELIGIOUS FANATICISM
LIKE THAT ALL
AROUND US.
I ASKED LLOYD JONES, WHY
DID SHE BEAR WITNESS?
WHY?
SHE KNEW WHAT
WOULD HAPPEN.
AND HE SAID, "IT WAS
BECAUSE SHE FINALLY
RECOGNIZED WHAT HER
DAUGHTER MATILDA
HAD KNOWN ALL ALONG.
THAT THERE WAS NO REAL
CONFLICT BETWEEN THE BIBLE
AND
GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
ONE TEACHES FAITH, ONE
TEACHES THE POWER
OF SECULAR IMAGINATION.
THEY ARE NOT IN CONFLICT."
BEFORE DOLORES LAMO DIES,
AFTER SHE IS RAPED,
SHE BEGS THE OFFICER
THAT HER DAUGHTER, 13,
NOW 14-YEAR-OLD, A PRETTY
LITTLE GIRL, MATILDA,
SHE BEGS THAT
SHE NOT BE HURT.
AND THE OFFICER GOES
INTO A LONG SILENCE.
HE LOOKS UP
AT THE SKY.
AND HE LOOKS
AT THE SEA.
AND HE LOOKS
AT THE LAND.
AND HE ACQUIESCES.
HE SPARES THE
LITTLE GIRL.
I THOUGHT IT WAS A
BRILLIANT PIECE
OF WRITING BY
LLOYD JONES.
THE OFFICER IS
SICK WITH MALARIA.
THE ADULT MATILDA
REMEMBERING THE SCENE
WONDERS, WAS HE
JUST TIRED OF LIFE?
TIRED OF THE
LIFE HE LED?
BUT SHE CAN'T KNOW,
AND NEITHER CAN WE.
LLOYD JONES IS REMINDING
US THAT ULTIMATELY,
THE HUMAN MIND
IS UNKNOWABLE.
BUT I WASN'T HAPPY.
I PRESSED LLOYD
JONES ON THE POINT.
WHY DID THE OFFICER
SPARE MATILDA?
THE MOTHER SAID,
"TAKE ME!"
THE OFFICER SAYS, "MY MEN
HAVE ALREADY TAKEN YOU.
WHAT CAN YOU GIVE ME?"
THERE IS NOTHING
SHE CAN GIVE HIM.
BUT HE SPARES
THE GIRL.
I PRESSED.
PRESSED, PRESSED LLOYD
JONES ON THE POINT.
AND OVER AND OVER AND
OVER AGAIN HE GAVE ME
THE SAME ANSWER.
"I DON'T KNOW."
I BOUGHT HIM
MORE DRINKS.

[laughter]

Robert continues I PUT THE QUESTION TO HIM
AGAIN, DIFFERENT WAY,
SAME QUESTION.
AND AGAIN, HE SAID,
"I DON'T KNOW."
HE SAID, "I DON'T KNOW."
HE SAID, "I TOLD YOU I
BEGAN TO WRITE
WITH THOSE TWO IMAGES:
A ROOM WHERE PEOPLE
TELL STORIES,
AND A WHITE MAN
PULLING A BLACK WOMAN.
AND THEN I
FOUND THE VOICE.
THE VOICE OF A CHILD.
THE REST OF IT, I
DON'T UNDERSTAND.
THE VOICE TOOK
ME TO PLACES.
AND I CAN'T KNOW WHY
EVERYONE DID EVERYTHING."
THEN HE QUIETENED DOWN.
AFTER THE RAPE AND THE
MURDER OF HER MOTHER,
MATILDA FLEES
THE VILLAGE.
SHE THROWS HERSELF INTO
THE SWOLLEN RIVER,
AND SHE LETS IT CARRY
HER WHERE IT WILL.
SHE FASTENS ON
TO A LOG.
SHE CALLS THE
LOG Mr. JAGGERS.
JUST AS THE LAWYER JAGGERS
TOOK PIP TO A NEW LIFE
IN LONDON, SO SHE WILL LET
THE LOG TAKE HER
TO A NEW LIFE SOMEWHERE
SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHERE.
BY COINCIDENCE, THE LOG
CARRIES HER OUT TO SEA,
TO THAT VERY FISHING BOAT
ON WHICH TOM WATTS
HAD PLANNED
TO ESCAPE.
IT'S A VERY
DICKENSIAN TOUCH.
DICKENS, I'M SURE
YOU'LL REMEMBER,
HOW HE LOVED COINCIDENCE
AS A WAY TO MOVE
HIS PLOT FORWARD.
YOU REMEMBER IN "A
TALE OF TWO CITIES,"
IT'S BEYOND COINCIDENCE
THAT SYDNEY CARTON
AND CHARLES DARNAY
ARE LOOKALIKES,
BUT IT TAKES THE
PLOT FORWARD.
IT ENABLES THE VOICE TO
CONTINUE TELLING THE STORY.
ON THAT FISHING BOAT,
MATILDA IS TAKEN
TO SAFETY IN THE
SOLOMON ISLANDS.
ULTIMATELY, SHE IS
REUNITED WITH HER FATHER
IN AUSTRALIA.
SCHOOL FOLLOWS.
NOW, THAT'S HOW I MADE
MY ORIGINAL NOTES.
"ULTIMATELY, SHE IS
REUNITED WITH HER FATHER
IN AUSTRALIA - PERIOD -
SCHOOL FOLLOWS."
BUT I WAS TALKING TO
A FRIEND OF MINE
IN MONTREAL, TWO,
THREE WEEKS AGO,
SHE CAME FOR DINNER.
DELIGHTFUL FRIEND.
AS A CHILD, IN RUSSIA,
SHE WAS EXILED
WITH HER MOTHER
TO SIBERIA.
AND IT WAS MANY, MANY
YEARS UNTIL SHE WAS
REUNITED WITH HER FATHER
AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
SHE ASKED ME, "WHEN
YOU REVIEW THIS BOOK,
YOU'RE GOING TO SPEND
SOME TIME ON THE REUNION
WITH THE FATHER?"
SHE SAID, I QUOTE
HER, "WHEN I READ IT,
I WAS IN TEARS.
I COULDN'T SLEEP
THAT NIGHT."
I HAD DISMISSED IT
WITH A SENTENCE.
ULTIMATELY, SHE IS
REUNITED WITH HER FATHER.
AND I SUDDENLY REALIZED
HOW TRUE IT WAS WHEN
POPEYE TRIES TO GET THE
CHILDREN TO RECREATE
GREAT EXPECTATIONS,
EACH CHILD HAD CHOSEN
A DIFFERENT FRAGMENT.
MY FRIEND MARIA HAD READ
THIS BOOK AND SHE HAD
FASTENED ON SOMETHING
THAT HAD NOT TOUCHED ME
BECAUSE I HAD NOT
LIVED THAT EXPERIENCE,
THE REUNION OF A CHILD
WITH THE FATHER.
MATILDA IS REUNITED WITH
HER FATHER IN AUSTRALIA.
A MOVING SCENE
FOR SOME.
SCHOOL FOLLOWS,
THEN UNIVERSITY.
AND THEN RESEARCH IN
ENGLAND ON THE LIFE
AND WORK OF
CHARLES DICKENS.
SHE GOES TO THE GREAT
BRITISH LIBRARY.
SHE GOES DOWN TO GRAVES
END IN ROCHESTER
WHERE PARTS OF
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS
ARE SITUATED.
SHE GOES TO
DICKENS' HOUSE.
SHE EXAMINES HIS
LIFE IN DETAIL.
SHE DISCOVERS SOMETHING
THAT I FIND FASCINATING,
THAT DICKENS
HAD FIVE SONS.
HE SENT THEM ALL AWAY
AT AN EARLY AGE,
TO INDIA, TO CANADA,
TO AUSTRALIA.
HE WANTED TO MAKE
HIS SONS ORPHANS.
DE FACTO ORPHANS.
HE THOUGHT IT WOULD
STRENGTHEN THEM.
THAT AWAY FROM
HIS INFLUENCE,
THEY WOULD FIND
OUT WHO THEY WERE.
IN THE MEANTIME, SHE
BECOMES A TEACHER
IN BRISBANE.
A TEACHER WITH A
SECRET TECHNIQUE.
ANY TIME HER STUDENTS
WERE GIVING HER TROUBLE,
SHE WOULD READ TO
THEM OUT OF A BOOK.
THERE IS NO PRIZE FOR
KNOWING WHICH BOOK
SHE READ FROM.
AND THEN, SHE GOES TO
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND.
FROM BRISBANE DOWN TO
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND.
SHE KNOWS THAT'S WHERE
POPEYE, TOM WATTS,
ORIGINALLY CAME FROM.
AFTER SOME DETECTIVE
WORK, SHE TRACKS DOWN
A JUNE WATTS.
SHE FINDS THAT THAT IS TOM
WATTS' ABANDONED WHITE WIFE.
AND FROM JUNE WATTS, SHE
GETS THE WHOLE STORY.
TOM WATTS AND JUNE HAD MET
WHILE WORKING IN MUNDANE
CLERICAL JOBS AT THE
STANDARDS ASSOCIATION.
TOM WATTS, JUNE
TELLS MATILDA,
TOM WATTS HAD HAD A VERY
CONVENTIONAL UPBRINGING.
HE WASN'T AN ORPHAN.
IT WAS NOTHING LIKE THE
PIP-LIKE STORY HE HAD TOLD
THE REBELS EVENING
AFTER EVENING
IN THE SCHEHERAZADE-LIKE
WAY ON THE ISLAND.
THE ONLY TINY ECHO WAS
THAT TOM WATTS HAD ONCE
MOWED THE LAWN OF A BLIND
OLD LADY DOWN THE STREET,
BUT THAT LADY WAS NOTHING
LIKE Miss HAVISHAM.
JUNE WATTS REMEMBERS
THAT HER HUSBAND
WAS NEVER HAPPY
WITH WHO HE WAS.
HE TOLD STORIES.
HE WAS ALWAYS INTERESTED
IN OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES.
WHEN A BLACK GIRL MOVED
INTO AN APARTMENT
NEXT TO THEIRS, HE WAS
ALWAYS LISTENING
THROUGH THE WALL.
SHE CALLED HIM
A FANTASIST.
ALWAYS SEEKING A ROLE
OTHER THAN HIS OWN LIFE.
TOM AND JUNE WATTS JOINED
THE STANDARDS ASSOCIATION,
AMATEUR THEATRICAL
GROUP.
IN THAT AMATEUR
THEATRE GROUP,
TOM WAS CAST IN A PLAY
CALLED
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
THE BLACK GIRL WHO LIVED
NEXT TO THEM, GRACE,
SHE IS CAST IN THE TITLE
ROLE OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
AND THE DIRECTOR, AS
YOUNG DIRECTORS OFTEN DO,
WANTS TO PUT HIS OWN
INDIVIDUAL STAMP ON THE PLAY.
IT'S A FAILING OF
YOUNG DIRECTORS.

[laughter]

Robert continues THEY HAVE ALL READ THE
BIBLE OF MODERN DIRECTING.
THE BIBLE OF MODERN
DIRECTING IS A BOOK
CALLED
THE THEATRE
AND ITS DOUBLE,
LE THEATRE ET SON DOUBLE,
BY ANTONIN ARTAUD.
HE WROTE IT IN
1936, 1937.
ARTAUD ARGUED PERSUASIVELY
THAT WHAT HAPPENS
ON STAGE IS
NOT REALITY.
OF COURSE IT'S NOT.
THESE ARE ACTORS.
THEREFORE, YOU DO NOT
HAVE TO RESPECT
THE RULES OF REALITY.
YOU CAN USE OUTLANDISH
EFFECTS, GYMNASTIC MOVEMENTS,
LIGHTS, STRANGE SOUNDS, NOISES
TO ACHIEVE YOUR EFFECT.
MODERN DIRECTORS HAVE
GOBBLED UP ARTAUD.
THINK OF ROBERT LEPAGE.
ROBERT LEPAGE; EVERYONE SAYS,
"OH, OH, HOW MODERN, HOW NEW!"
IT'S NOT MODERN,
IT'S NOT NEW.
HE'S TAKEN ANTONIN
ARTAUD'S BOOK
AND PUT IT ON STAGE.
ANYWAY, THIS PARTICULAR
YOUNG DIRECTOR
DECIDES TO PUT ON
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
AND TO ACHIEVE AN EFFECT,
HE DECIDES TO HAVE TOM WATTS
PUT ON A CLOWN RED
NOSE, WEAR A WHITE SUIT,
AND PULL THE QUEEN OF
SHEBA AROUND ON A TROLLEY.
AS JUNE WATTS REMEMBERS
IT, I QUOTE HER,
"IT WAS TO SHOW THAT
SOME MEETING OF MINDS
HAD BEEN ACHIEVED,
DON'T ASK ME HOW."
DURING THE RUN OF
THE PLAY, GRACE,
THE BOUGAINVILLEAN GIRL,
SUFFERS A BREAKDOWN.
SHE BECOMES
INSTITUTIONALIZED.
SHE IS FIXED IN HER ROLE
AS THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
TOM WATTS
ABANDONS HIS WIFE,
AND WEARING THE ONLY
SUIT HE POSSESSES,
A WHITE LINEN SUIT, HE
TAKES THE BLACK GIRL BACK,
AS HIS WIFE, TO HER NATIVE
ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE,
WHERE THEY WILL LIVE
TOGETHER FOR 10, 11,
12 YEARS, UNTIL
SHE DIES.
TOM WATTS LOVED GRACE.
AND HE FOUND A
ROLE SERVING HER
THAT GAVE MEANING
TO HIS LIFE.
HE ACCEPTED HIS ROLE
AS HER ATTENDANT.
AND HE WOULD NOT LEAVE
HER UNTIL SHE DIED.
ONCE SHE DIED, HE HAD
TO FIND A NEW ROLE
TO GIVE MEANING
TO HIS LIFE.
HE HAD CHOSEN TO RESPOND
TO GRACE'S NEEDS.
THAT HAD GIVEN HIM
A ROLE TO PLAY.
IN THE SAME WAY HE
CHOSE TO RESPOND
TO THE NEEDS OF
THE VILLAGERS.
AS THE ADULT MATILDA
REMEMBERS, QUOTE,
"WE NEEDED A TEACHER.
Mr. WATTS BECAME
THAT TEACHER.
WE NEEDED A MAGICIAN TO
CONJURE UP OTHER WORLDS,
AND Mr. WATTS HAD
BECOME THAT MAGICIAN.
WHEN WE NEEDED A
SAVIOUR, Mr. WATTS
HAD FILLED THAT ROLE.
WHEN THE REDSKINS
REQUIRED A LIFE,
Mr. WATTS HAD
GIVEN HIMSELF."
THE NOVEL
MISTER PIP
IS MANY THINGS.
IN PART, IT IS A
DESCRIPTION IN
EXQUISITELY SIMPLE PROSE
OF A PLACE OF GREAT BEAUTY.
IT IS IN PART WHAT THE GERMANS
CALL BILDUNGSROMAN,
A COMING TO AGE
NOVEL OF A CHILD.
IT IS, IN PART, A
HOMAGE TO DICKENS.
IT IS, IN PART, A
STUDY OF POST-COLONIAL
RACIAL ATTITUDES.
IT IS, IN PART, A STORY
ABOUT THE INTRICACIES
OF A MOTHER-DAUGHTER
RELATIONSHIP.
IT IS, OF COURSE, IN
PART, A LITTLE PEEK
AT A FEW FORGOTTEN
YEARS OF HISTORY.
A PLACE WHERE A
REBELLION FIZZLED OUT
UNDER GOVERNMENT
BRUTALITY.
BUT FOR ME, ABOVE ALL, IT
IS A NOVEL ABOUT CHOICE.
CHOICE.
PIP IN
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
DID NOT CHOOSE
TO HAVE A MYSTERIOUS
BENEFACTOR.
BUT HE DID CHOOSE, AT
THE END OF THE NOVEL,
TO STOP BEING A SNOB
AND BECOME A GOOD MAN.
HE CHOSE TO LOVE THE
DYING CONVICT, MAGWITCH.
HE CHOSE TO ASK
FORGIVENESS OF HIS
BROTHER-IN-LAW, THE
VILLAGE BLACKSMITH,
JOE GARGERY, WHOM HE
HAD ONCE REGARDED
AS VULGAR AND COMMON.
IN THE SAME WAY, MATILDA
DID NOT CHOOSE TO SEE
THE END OF HER
VILLAGE LIFE.
SHE DID NOT CHOOSE TO
SEE HER MOTHER RAPED
AND MURDERED.
BUT SHE DID CHOOSE
TO BECOME A TEACHER.
AND SHE DID CHOOSE TO
SOLVE THE MYSTERY
OF TOM WATTS, A MAN WHO
MADE MANY CHOICES.
THE GREAT VIKTOR FRANKL,
WHO WROTE THE GREAT BOOK,
LOGOTHERAPY: MAN'S
SEARCH FOR MEANING.
VIKTOR FRANKL
DISCOVERED IN AUSCHWITZ
THAT WHILE WE CANNOT
ALWAYS CONTROL EVENTS,
THERE ARE ALWAYS
CHOICES WE CAN MAKE.
SOMETIMES THEY ARE
VERY SMALL CHOICES,
BUT THERE ARE
ALWAYS CHOICES.
AND FRANKL, THE GREAT
VIKTOR FRANKL SAYS THAT OUR FREEDOM TO
CHOOSE IS FINALLY
OUR ONLY REAL FREEDOM.
WHICH LEADS ME TO THE
FINAL CHOICE IN THE NOVEL.
AT THE END OF
GREAT
EXPECTATIONS,
PIP IS A GENTLEMAN AND
HE WILL MARRY ESTELLA.
HE HAS COME TO TERMS WITH
HIS VILLAGE CHILDHOOD.
HE HAS BEGGED FORGIVENESS
OF HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW,
BUT HE CANNOT RETURN
TO HIS CHILDHOOD.
MATILDA, ON
THE OTHER HAND,
WILL TRY TO RETURN TO HER
VILLAGE AS A TEACHER,
THE CIVIL WAR NOW OVER.
SHE WILL CHOOSE TO
BE THE NEW POPEYE.
THE NOVEL ENDS WITH
THE LINES, I QUOTE,
"PIP WAS MY STORY.
EVEN IF I WAS ONCE A
GIRL, AND MY FACE BLACK
AS THE SHINING NIGHT,
PIP IS MY STORY.
AND IN THE NEXT
DAY, I WOULD TRY
RETURN HOME."
I THANK YOU VERY MUCH
FOR LISTENING TO ME.

[applause]

Watch: Robert Adams on Mister Pip