Riddley, Max, Iain and Dave: Riddley Walker’s linguistic legacies

How do we get from Riddley Walker to children rescuing Mel Gibson in the outback, or a reincarnation castle on a future doomed Earth, or even an outraged London cabbie who becomes an accidental prophet? By language, or rather, by the particular creative distortions thereof which Russell Hoban innovated in his novel.

Before continuing, readers may be interested in we should mention a Riddley Walker event tomorrow – Tiny manyings for Riddley presented as part of the Kent Open Thinking Programme and is supported by Canterbury Festival and The Gulbenkian.

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“The Sylents Swallering Up the Souns” – Riddley Walker and the critics

Okay, so we lied. There are actually going to be four posts in this series. In the previous two, we looked at how Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange (which is often proposed as an influence on Riddley Walker) praised Russell Hoban’s 1980 novel, and also some of the literary elements which went into the creation of ‘Riddleyspeak’.

In this article, we’re going to look at Riddleyspeak itself, how it functions linguistically and what the critics made of it. In the next and final one, we’ll take a look at Riddley’s legacy.

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Tryd to put my mynd where he cud lissen me: Riddley Walker and language invention

Scholars, authors and artists are attending a ‘sum poasyum’ at Canterbury today (24th October 2020) in honour of the 40th anniversary of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.

In the previous article, we looked at how Anthony Burgess, himself the author of a number of novels in invented languages, rated it so highly. His novella, A Clockwork Orange, is often compared to Riddley Walker, or proposed as an influence upon Hoban’s novel. But to what extent are the invented languages of Nadsat and Riddleyspeak similar? And is it possible to assess whether Burgess was a significant influence upon Hoban?

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