This is the second time that I’ve read this particular tale of Dr Hannibal Lecter. The first time was not long after the book came out in paperback during 2000. After the first reading I couldn’t imagine how it would be filmed and it’s the Ridley Scott film, of the same name, that has become one of my favourite, and most watched, DVD’s.

After being used to the plot of the film for so long it was interesting to see what was left out. What was surplus to the story and what areas were changed. Margot, Mason Verger’s sister, Mischa, Hannibal’s sister and Dr Lecter’s use of a memory palace were all left out of the final product.

It’s this concept of a memory palace that really interests me. After the first read I did think that Lecter just used the device to store data. Different rooms contain information held as mnemonics. But it’s later in the book, when he was about to be fed to the pigs, that he uses a statue in his memory palace to cool his face after his eye was a attacked with a cattle prod. Is it really possible to control pain just by putting your thoughts elsewhere? I’ll find out more when I read The Art of Memory by Frances A. Yates and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan Spence. Both books are mentioned by Harris in the acknowledgements.

I still can’t quite understand why the ending was changed. Surely if Harris intended to write another book based on the Lecter character the ending of the film would have to follow the book. But, as time has shown, Harris chose to write about Lecter’s early years. I haven’t read Hannibal Rising nor seen the film. So for me there will always be the Hannibal Lecter Trilogy, and I’ll ignore the books that came after.

  • Reviewed on Sunday, 14 December 2008
  • Tagged with book review