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The Golden Barge

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  • The Golden Barge

    I just finished reading this for the first time yesterday. Given that it is described as the earliest surviving complete Moorcock novel, I was really struck by the number of similarities and resonances that there were between the Golden Barge and later works. This was all the more interesting as Golden Barge apparently languished in anonymity in a laundry box for many years, with other works being written and published in the meantime.

    There were obvious elements like the city of Melibone (which seemed to bear little resemblance to Melnibone in anything other than name), but I also noted an appearance of the dragon and sword motif (in one of Tallow's dreams, if I recall correctly). And, although, they do not take the same path in life, I saw a lot of Elric's questioning of rights and wrongs, beliefs and destinies in Tallow's own ponderings on the same matters. Plus there was a real prefiguring of the Law/Chaos conflict in the discussions on individual choice vs. group duty etc. Fascinating stuff.

    I am guessing that these themes are all resonant with the author, hence their appearance across the body of work, but to see them all present in such an early piece was very striking. I wonder how much these elements would have featured in later works if the Golden Barge had been published soon after it was written.

    Oh, and whatever happened to poor Tallow's navel? I had almost forgotten about it until the Man With No Navel appeared in The Deep Fix...
    The name that can be named is not the true name.

  • #3
    Seem to remember I had more than one novel on the go at the time I was reading The Golden Barge. It was one or more of the 'Riverworld' series from Phillipe Hose Farmer I believe. Not sure if that was a coincidence or not. Think I must re-read the 'Barge' again though because it's all a little cloudy now...

    and over in the big black booth near the edge of the fairground, the last band is playing...

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