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The Rage of the Vulture by Barry Unsworth

The Rage of the Vulture (original 1982; edition 1983)

by Barry Unsworth

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129293,299 (3.12)7
Title:The Rage of the Vulture
Authors:Barry Unsworth
Info:Houghton Mifflin (1983), Edition: First, Paperback
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The Rage of the Vulture by Barry Unsworth (1982)



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This a rather puzzling novel with two aspects. First it is the story of the last days of the Ottoman empire. The second is the story of an English military attache in Constantinople named Robert Markham. He becomes engaged to an Armenian woman and at his engagement part watches as all the Armenians at the party are killed. His fiance is raped. He escapes being killed by saying that he is English. The novel takes place 12 years after this event. He is married with a son. His guilt from escaping the slaughter 12 years earlier leads to his raping his son's governess, bullying a young English woman reporter, and pushing a colleague into suicide. The most successful part of the novel is the examination of the workings of the mind of this utterly aloof man, how and why he behaves abominable. The end of the novel takes place as Ottoman regime collapses. This part is just not believable and does not add anything at all to the novel. ( )
  pnorman4345 | Jun 2, 2013 |
Graham Greeneland sans Catholicism plus history. The exotic setting (E Said would not be pleased); the hint of a whodunnit; the spies: the morally mixed-up central character; the sexual tribulations; the guilt. Some good passages, both description and action, but in the end the hero doesnt quite add up: why is he so wounded by this past incident? is he a nasty piece of work or not? His search feels like a wild goose chase from the start; the expiatory act at the end has an odd feel to it: apart from the pain we don't know if he finds expiation or not. The coda - his "retirement" and a refocus on the son - seems anticlimactic. That said, the characters (stiff blinkered expat Brits and multiple variations on the wily Oriental gentleman are credible, if verging on stereotype. The research and recreation of another world are excellently done, an insight into the last days of Ottoman Empire, including a good smattering of Turkish phrases. A small misfit is the "nautch" girls, a Hindi term not Turkish. ( )
  vguy | Dec 25, 2012 |
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