I *loved* Artemis 81 but struggled a bit with Penda's Fen. Artemis risked charges of meretriciousness due to its risky combination of high and low brow culture, but was ultimately sincere. Rudkin is one of these individuals who appears to have a vocation or higher calling to the services of art, which is always nourishing to experience but there is a certain problem of drama with Penda, that is the conflict is largely metaphysical. It is concerned with moral questions and the ending with Penda pontificating on his throne may be overly portentous or even risible for some. Tarkovsky's 'Nostalgia', with the self immolation of the 'madman' on the statue of the horse, seemed to express similar sentiments to Rudkin, so perhaps it's a timeless theme amongst artists the world over. Not being an artist myself, I wouldn't presume to know. I do question whether corporate man is necessarily spiritually bankrupt. Maybe he or she goes to sleep with a Herman Hesse paperback tucked under the pillow, who would know? Maybe Penda.
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