On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bumdel downs any how there hadnt ben non for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see non agen.
– Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker
The novel is related in a fractured, ‘degraded’ English that is nevertheless eloquent and savagely poetic, and which has been compared favourably to the Nadsat slang from Anthony Burgess‘ A Clockwork Orange (1962).
R.D. Mullen examines the language of Riddley Walker in some detail in ”Dialect, Grapholect, and Story: Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker as Science Fiction” (published in 2000, some years after Mullen’s death).
Punch and Judy
Goodparley introduces Riddley to his Punch puppet:
”This here figger his name is Punch which he’s the oldes figger there is. He were old time back way back long befor Eusa ever ben thot of. He’s so old he can’t dy is what Ganser tol me.”
– Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (p.131)
This is a referrence to a conversation Hoban had with the legendary Punch and Judy ‘Professor’ Percy Press Sr. which Hoban quotes in his Afterward to the Expanded Edition:
”He’s so old he can’t die,’ Percy told me. ‘He’s a law unto himself.’
– Russell Hoban, Afterward to Riddley Walker (p.227)
Burgess, Anthony (1962) A Clockwork Orange
- Hoban, Russell (1980) Riddley Walker
- Miller, Walter M. (1959) A Cantacle for Leibowitz
- Mullen, R.D. (2000) ”Dialect, Grapholect, and Story: Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker as Science Fiction” in Science Fiction Studies #82, Volume 27, Part 3, November 2000
- Self, Will (2002) Introduction to Hoban, R. (1980) Riddley Walker
- Warren, Martin L (2007) ”The St. Eustace Legend as Palimpsest in Hoban’s Riddley Walker” in Notes & Correspondence, Science Fiction Studies #101 = Volume 34, Part 1 = March 2007