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The Man Who Was Magic; A Fable of Innocence (original 1966; edition 1966)

by Paul Gallico

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1205100,400 (4.17)10
Member:mysterymax
Title:The Man Who Was Magic; A Fable of Innocence
Authors:Paul Gallico
Info:Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1966.
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Favorite Author

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The Man Who Was Magic: A Fable of Innocence by Paul Gallico (1966)

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Showing 5 of 5
This is perhaps the most perfect story I have ever read. It has the beauty of the Snow Goose, but without any flaws.

When a genuinely magical person comes humbly to a town of conjurers and illusionists, most will find him a threat, some will find redemption and all will find their perspective changed forever. Its title and subtitle capture its character completely.

It is amazingly difficult to find copies of this book. My guess is that those who have a old copy wouldn't dream of letting it go and those who hold the rights to print it new have no idea what magic it contains.
  FergusS | Apr 4, 2014 |
It always amazes, and saddens, me that some of the most enjoyable and meaningful books, for adults, wind up being called "children's books" or "young adult". So it is with the majority of Paul Gallico's stories which show their amazing depth and worth when an adult reads them.

This one shows us how easy, and often, we applaud the sham and decry the true.

The Man Who Was Magic remains one of my favorite Gallico books - along with Jeannie. ( )
  mysterymax | Jan 23, 2013 |
I read it when I was in my 8th year at school. And I still have very fond remembrance of the book. Would love to read it again, if I can find it somewhere. ( )
1 vote Kido | Dec 19, 2008 |
I read this years ago and fell in love with it. It is written for children, but works on so many levels that adults can enjoy it too. A magical book. ( )
  bdickie | Aug 7, 2008 |
Posted at:

http://web.mac.com/ann163125/Table_Talk/Table_Talk_Blog/Entries/2008/5/31_The_Ma...

A conversation with another book blogger earlier this year reminded me of a book that I used to read without fail to my classes of ten and eleven year olds when I was teaching primary. Somewhere over the intervening twenty years, my copy of Paul Gallico’s The Man Who Was Magic has gone missing, but the local library service turned up trumps and managed to dig me a copy out of its archive section and so I’ve been able to visit once again the city of Mageia in the presence of the young magician, Adam and his talking dog, Mopsy.
Mageia is a city entirely populated by stage magicians and their families and every year they hold trials to elect three of their number to the Guild of Master Magicians. When a young man dressed from head to toe in doe-skin turns up at their gates and asks to be allowed to take part in the trials they are both sceptical and scathing. When he invites Jane, the apparently incompetent daughter of the Chief Magician to be his assistant, they openly mock him. However, their mockery turns to apprehension when, in the eliminating round, Adam performs what appears to be not stage magic but the real thing. He is saved from what could well turn out to be a very nasty situation only by the words of the senior magician, Professor Alexander.
You’ve just witnessed one of the finest pieces of sleight-of-hand I’ve seen since I was a boy. And there you are, like a bunch of dummies sitting on your hands, instead of acknowledging a master.
And there, in a nutshell, is Gallico’s basic premise. We all applaud the wonders of the mechanical and industrial world that we have created while sitting on our hands failing to recognise and applaud the miracle that is the magic of the natural world. Adam tries to explain this to Jane when they are sent by her parents on a picnic during which she is supposed to worm is secret out of him. Adam has to disappoint her as she tries to get him to reveal the ‘trick’.
‘Can’t you see, Jane.’ Adam continued, ‘that there’s magic all about us? None of it can be explained and there isn’t a single soul who really and truly knows the secret. Supposing, for instance, you tell me how this is done.’ He picked up and old, brown acorn from the ground and, holding it between thumb and forefinger, he indicated the spreading branches and shining leaves of the ancient tree towering above their heads. “From this, comes that,’ he said. ‘Well?’
‘It - it just grows.’
‘Oh, yes. But how does something so tremendous come from something so tiny? And why? And when was the first one? And how did they all begin?’
Gallico’s book is sub-titled A Fable of Innocence and perhaps at times it preaches its messages just a little to openly. This is especially the case when Adam tries to persuade Jane that she holds the key to her own success or failure.
Adam gently touched her forehead with a long finger. ‘It’s all inside there, Jane, like a box with many compartments. each one you can call upon for anything you want or desire. It contains the greatest magic of all....There are compartments ...called “I Can” and “I Will”. When you have learned to unlock them, the strong magic will help you to move mountains.’
Nevertheless, if you will excuse the pun, this is a magical tale and I defy anyone not to get caught up in the climax as Mopsy is locked in the Museum of Magic with no apparent hope of escape while Adam and Jane are stranded on stage with nothing but an old clothes rack between them and complete failure. It may not prove to be an easy book to get hold of, but if you do come across a copy in a secondhand shop find a child for whom you can buy it and then read it yourself before passing it on.
1 vote ann163125 | May 31, 2008 |
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Th estranger, dusty and travel-stained, accompanied by the small mop of a dog at his heels, emerged from the cool darkness of the woods where they had spend the night and paused for a moment in wonder at the first sight of their goal, Mageia, the magical city.
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One day, from beyond the dark, impenetrable Mountains of Straen, there appeared a wandering magician and his talking dog, to knock for admission at the bronze gates of the hidden city of Mageia, home of the masters of misdirection and sleight-of-hand. Innocence and belief had long since fled from Mageia and even the children had access to the secret books of tricks and knew there was no such thing as real magic. No one was aware of it, not even himself, but his presence constituted a danger to many within the walls. For it seemed that his magic might be different from theirs. This is the story of how innocence came to Mageia, faith was restored to a child, and what happened when the city and its inhabitants met The Man Who Was Magic.
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