Since the 2016 United States Presidential election, the concepts of Nationalism and Populism have received a lot more attention and consideration. One of the defining characteristics of both Nationalism and Populism is not just the ideology they identify with but almost more importantly the relationship to the ideology to which they are opposed. By emphasizing the Orwellian nature of Socialist, Democratic Socialist, or any flavor of Socialist or Communist thought, Nationalists and Populists attempt to draw crudely the dissimilarities between the ideologies. The best and easiest way to invoke this Orwellian narrative is by returning to the source material. Nationalists/Populists refer back to the works of George Orwell, most specifically the novels 1984 and Animal Farm.
It was a time of great uncertainty and upheaval in America. A time of grand, expansive plans as a small part of the population enjoyed untold prosperity. It was also when the ability to survive yet another day was a small plodding measure of success. One man pierced the veil of darkness attempting to bring a modicum of hope and light to the beleaguered inhabitants of his city. He is vengeance. He is the night. He knows where to find you and what you fear. He is... the Ghost of Manhattan. Hold on for just a minute. Is it just me, or does that not sound amazingly familiar to anyone that has read a comic book in the last seventy-five years or seen a movie this millennium?
There is something supremely satisfying, and a bit nostalgic, in reading classic thriller novels. The classics seem fresh, nuanced, with rich full characters that are multifaceted and contradictory. Newer forays into the genre seem cliched or formulaic. Even the newer pieces by the classic authors fall prey to this issue. Eric Ambler’s Cause for Alarm was only the fourth novel he wrote back in 1936 - publishing it in September of 1938 - and considered remarkable for its prophetic tone. Most of us in the 21st century forget, to the average person in 1938 World War 2 wasn’t inevitable, or at least so it didn’t seem.
There’s an odd thing that happens with a long series. It happens regardless; any medium is just as susceptible as a series of novels. This odd thing is a dichotomy that develops with the work and our relationship with it. And I find sometimes… I’m really okay with that.
Everyone surely knows the story in 1984. Or at least they think they do nowadays with terms like facecrime and doublespeak being thrown around the news and social media as if we’ve all just come from a high school English Lit course. I certainly thought I did as well. 1984 warns of the dystopian future where the state has taken control of every aspect of life. Like most people though I had missed some important points by not reading the source material.
Most of us attempt to attain a certain level of skill. This seems like an incredibly simple and obvious statement to make. We would much rather be good at something than to fail at it completely. For most of the world a basic level of competency is expected. The Night-Comers is the eighth novel I’ve read by Eric Ambler. Over the course of these 8 books there has been a subtle development of the main characters. The protagonist becomes competent.