The “cosy” apocalypse

The Guardian recently commented on British/Canadian author Jo Walton’s article about what she called the “cosy catastrophe.” Her thesis is that certain middle class British authors wrote about the end of the world in response to a loss that they suffered after the 1st and 2nd world wars, which brought about the disintegration of their class structure and the world as they knew it.

These articles reminded me of a strange “children’s” book by author Mary Wesley: The Sixth Seal. A few people wake up one morning to discover that almost everyone else in the world has been evaporated, leaving only teeth and hair. It’s an eerie scenario, and a very effective one. The implication is that some scientific experiment has gone awry, but there are hints, from the cover, and from the opening pages, that there’s some genuine Biblical apocalypse happening, too. The survivors are a nice middle-class woman, her children, her dogs, and the precocious, tiresome boy, Henry, who may after all be the new leader of the world. I don’t know quite what to make of it, but it’s actually quite a compelling read, very untypical of others of Mary Wesley’s work.

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