Also, I stopped attending all that many classes. And off late stopped having so many classes to attend. I can now become sleepy in class, and need to fight to stay awake in a few. Unproductive, that. And pissing off.
Thus we come to this. With some time to go for lunch, I opened up Notepad in an effort to pen down my thoughts, hoping that something worthwhile comes out.
Allegory in fiction, though I have little experience with it as a writer, is a really good device. (Look at me. Referring to myself as a writer and all. Hubris it is, pure hubris.) It gives someone the power to talk about what they want: a situation, an emotion or a relationship; in a manner that allows the readers to grasp and appreciate the gravity or the subtler nuances of the subject, yet keeps them far away and prevents them from knowing the precise truth behind the allegory and in the author's personal life. If the author is good, that is.
On the other hand, allegorical fiction is sometimes thought very little of. The main reason for this being that the subtext in the piece of work far supercedes the actual bulk of the material in importance.
Then again, the opposite is more often true. Take Philp Pullman's His Dark Materials set of books for example. (The first of which has been made into a movie, The Golden Compass) It is tale set partly in our own universe, and partly in a parallel universe, one where people's souls have a corporeal form, as animals. It is a world where the Reformation never took place, and the church (the Magisterium, as it is called,) is as brutal as it was half a millenium ago. It's also the strongest body in the world, governing all aspects of life and policing them all. While the whole series can be thought of as a modern day, atheist version of the Book of Genesis, there's more to it. The subtext is all about the dangers of authoritative religion, be it Christianity or no. I guess the basic purpose of organized religion is to impart a set of good values and temperament to its followers, and once it fails to do so, it should either get the boot or some serious reworking.
I digress. This is not a post about the dangers and the idiosyncrasies of organized religion. That would have to be a much, much longer piece and I do not have the patience for it. I doubt that you would, either. An atheist preacher is among the lowest of hypocrites. (Now you know why I hate Richard Dawkins.)
The subtext adds meaning to his prose. The anti-religious overtones can be quite jarring at times, but if read in the spirit of things, it's quite alright. The subtext makes it more than some whimsical tale, set in a mystical world where Zeppelins are still in vogue and fundamental physics comes under the mantle of theology.
I'm flexible, but usually I subscribe to a more Tolkienesque opinion of allegory. In that it should almost never be used, and certainly not in an overt fashion, for it draws the reader away from the true beauty of the prose, as and how it is written. Appreciating fiction for what it is, not what it implies. The Lord of the Rings is a classic battle between good and evil, where good is good and evil is not just the other side of the proverbial coin. Evil also gets a rather Catholic treatment in the process, where evil characters were essentially good at some point in prehistory and fell at some point after.
It isn't too surprising then, that Pullman dismisses the Lord of the Rings as mostly trivial and not worthy of comparison to his own book. It was unpolitic and a little foolish of him, as a significant chunk of his readers would include Tolkien-loyalists who would be miffed at this dismissive remark of his, to say the least. However, if the comment were stripped of contempt and suchlike, the crux of his argument is that the two: his own work and that of Tolkien's are different and essentially incomparable. He prefers comparing his work to CS Lewis' Narnia, and with good reason.
In the end, it isn't a question of whether allegory is good or bad. Or better or worse. It's just a personal preference as a reader and as a writer.
PS. Note the time stamp. It is accurate. I started writing this yesterday, and continued writing it around 2 hours back, just before the Med Chem test. Alas, for I could not finish it then.