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Andrew Sinclair: Gog

The Gog and Magog of myth were giants and the Gog that appears here at the end of World War II, washed up on the shore of Scotland, is also a giant. He suffers from amnesia and neither he nor anyone else knows who he is. He has the words Gog and Magog tattooed on the back of his hands. After recovering for some time in a hospital in Edinburgh, he decides to go to London to find out who he is, as he has learned that the people, i.e. the Labour Party, have been elected to government. Much of the novel is the picaresque journey Gog makes on his way to London. He meets fictional characters, historical characters, legendary characters and members of his own family. The fictional characters include the Bagman, a character based on William Blake, who predicts the destruction of two cities (Gog later learns of the atom bombs falling on Nagasaki and Hiroshima), and Lady Chatterley, with Mellors’ successor, much more of a prude than his predecessor. He meets the Marquis de Sade and Leopold Sacher-Masoch at an orgy. He meets a wheeler-dealer, called Magnus Ponsonby, who has made money by selling arms to the Israeli terrorist group, the Haganah, and is now a successful politician. His nickname is Magog and he is Gog’s half-brother. It becomes clear that Gog is the representative of Britain, the good side, if you will, while Magog is his evil brother, the representative of destructive capitalism. Sinclair has tremendous fun with all the various characters, relatives and adventures of the naïve Gog and leaves us with Gog stuck at a fork in the road, unsure of what way he will follow.

Publishing history

First published 1967 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson