Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry — Reread Review

Moab is My Washpot is one of those books I read once, as a teenager or young adult, found one quotation that really mattered to me and so decided that I must love. (I suspect Brideshead Revisited, which I will revisit, is another.) Rereading it, not only did I not remember vast swathes of the book, I also found myself not really enjoying much of it.

I am not actually sure that I am capable of thoughts, let alone feelings, except through language.

Moab is My Washpot, Stephen Fry

Perhaps this is jus because I don’t really get on with autobiography, but I just didn’t find it that interesting. Stephen Fry’s description of himself as a child is quite different to what I might have imagined, but his life is still fairly normal. There are a few funny incidents – though on this reread, I found the story of the mole rather too infused with artificial significance.

Stephen Fry’s tone seemed patronising to me, in a way it didn’t when I read Mythos and, presumably, in a way it didn’t when I was a young adult because more of the material was actually new to me then than it is now. There were passages and offhand references which seemed quite dismissive of certain groups of people – namely his fans and anyone who enjoys revising media multiple times.

And then I saw him and nothing was ever the same again.
The sky was never the same colour, the moon never the same shape: the air never smelt the same, food never tasted the same. Every word I knew changed its meaning, everything that once was stable and firm became as insubstantial as a puff of wind, and every puff of wind became a solid thing I could feel and touch.

Moab is My Washpot, Stephen Fry

In short, it was fine, particularly if you go in with measured expectations. It didn’t hold up to the memory I had of it as being in some way supremely insightful. Even the one quotation that I liked had no resonance for me now.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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