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The Knot of Vipers by François Mauriac

The Knot of Vipers (1932)

by François Mauriac

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7161419,726 (4.08)86



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» See also 86 mentions

English (9)  French (5)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I liked this book. It was a different one, which probably caused me to like it. I thought at first that it would be very dull, remnenances on a life past. But, I was mistaken. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 11, 2019 |
I was surprised by the multifaceted perspective we are given at the end. I was expecting a simple conversion story. That isn't the case. I'll admit I felt Louis's tale was a bit arduous at times, but there was more than enough to chew on.

This book is helping me wrestle more with the question "what is faith?" It has something to do with love. ( )
  cambernard90 | Apr 12, 2017 |
This was a good read and I can add nothing that isn't already stated by the other positive reviews.

Having said that, this is my second book by Mauriac and I actually liked the other (The Woman of the Pharisees) a little better.

Try them both, you won't be disappointed! ( )
  Tower_Bob | Mar 23, 2016 |
Excellent novel. Devoured in one sitting. Of course, this isn't much coming from me, but still.

Mauriac isn't talked about too often these days, and it's a shame - he's brilliant. I don't know why. Is it because he's thought of as a Catholic writer? Graham Greene and C. S. Lewis survive, and Dostoevsky with his Orthodox influence. Ah well.

A gripping and complex look at morality, and the deceits and lies people use against each other, with the acidity of revenge playing a major role in the book, and the malevolent intelligence of the narrator left me stunned, and how he saw his money tore apart his family with greed.

Excellent. Recommended to all. ( )
1 vote HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
" I am one of those who has never known what it is to be young, never known what it is to be unselfconscious. I am by nature one of Nature's wet blankets."

Francois Mauriac won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1952, "for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life." Viper's Tangle, first published in 1932 and translated in 1951, is representative of Mauriac's focus on the spiritual. Although it has been cited as a classic example of the "Catholic" novel, a reader does not have to be religious to appreciate Viper's Tangle, which movingly portrays the life of a wealthy attorney and landowner, a man who states that he has created "about myself nothing but a wasteland."

As the novel opens, Louis is on his death bed at his country estate, surrounded by his family. His family fears that he is going to cheat them out of their inheritance, and in fact that is what Louis intends to do. The entire novel, with the exception of a short chapter at the end, consists of the letter Louis is writing to his wife to explain why he intends to disinherit his family--"a single act of vengeance upon which I have been brooding for almost half a century."

As he addresses his wife, Louis recounts the story of his life. Past, present and future are seamlessly interwoven. Frequently Louis's reflections on his past life are interrupted by fragments of conversations he overhears between his wife and children, and by the ordinary events of the progression of daily life on his estate as he awaits death. The shifts of time and event, and the continual juxtaposition of things that happened years ago, what happened minutes ago, and what might happen in the future are fluid and seamless. As we acquire more information, or as facts we were previously told or assumed are disproved, we must frequently reevaluate and reinterpret Louis's motives and his relationship with his family. Louis, too, evolves and reverts as he evaluates his life.

While this description may make the book sound claustophobic and static, there is in fact a lot of action--fortunes are made and lost, there are marriages of convenience and marriages of passion, a child dies, an illegitimate child appears, and so goes life.

Over the course of this remarkable book, we as readers come to sympathize with Louis, a venal, misanthropic, and thoroughly unlikeable man. On the basis of this one novel, I can agree that Mauriac is a writer deserving of a Nobel. I will be reading more by him. ( )
7 vote arubabookwoman | Feb 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
François Mauriacprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davico Bonino, GuidoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopkins, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koleva, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodge, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohlström, MaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silhol, RobertContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoker, John T.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wijdeveld, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...Dieu, considérez que nous ne nous entendons pas nous-mêmes et que nous ne savons pas ce que nous voulons, et que nous nous éloignons infiniment de ce que nous désirons.
Sainte Thérèse d'Avila
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Te asombrará descubrir esta carta enmi arca...
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Louis is a millionaire many times over, but he is unhappy. Toward the end of his life, seeking to uncover the cause of his unhappiness, he commits to paper his whole story.

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