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The Polyglots by William Gerhardie

The Polyglots (1925)

by William Gerhardie

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Though Gerhardie's approach was certainly innovative, and though I often smiled and sometimes laughed, I can't see that he - or this novel - merits the level of praise lavished by contemporaries or more recently. The protagonist is the narrator (in autobiographical mode) and much is made by admirers of the profundity of his regular philosophical musings. I'm less convinced; they come across to me as somewhat child like meanderings (albeit in high flown language) of a self-centred know-all. I ploughed on and finished the book, but I wasn't captivated . . . ( )
1 vote NaggedMan | Sep 3, 2015 |
The Polyglots is becoming a neglected book. Great comic characters in tragic straits. Gerhardie was a master at handling characters in absurd circumstances ( )
  ivanfranko | Feb 6, 2012 |
A wonderful novel, drawing from the author's Anglo-Russian childhood. I love the way he plays with the conventions of the novel. ( )
1 vote shikari | May 6, 2009 |
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I stood on board the liner halted midstream and looked upon Japan, my native land.
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Prion blurb:
The Polyglots, Gerhardie's comic masterpiece, is the unforgettable tale of an eccentric Belgian family living in the Far East through the uncertain years after the First World War and the Russian Revolution. The tale is recounted by their dryly conceited young English relative Captain Georges Hamlet Alexander Diabologh, who comes to stay with them during his military mission to the East. Filled with a host of bizarre characters - depressives, obsessives, paranoics, sex maniacs, hypochondriacs - Gerhardie paints a wonderfully absurd and directionless world where the comic and the tragic are irrevocably entwined.
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