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Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and The Salutation…

Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and The Salutation [New York Review Classics…

by Sylvia Townsend Warner

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First published in 1927, this is classic satire from one of the great writers of the 20th Century. Answering the call of God, Mr. Fortune sets out to convert the inhabitants of a small island in the South Pacific. The results are both hilarious and deeply moving. For fans of E. F. Benson, Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark.
  vplprl | Nov 13, 2013 |
The novel, "Mr. Fortune's Maggot," grew on me as I read it and began to appreciate the subtly different levels at which Sylvia Townsend Warner was writing. It tells the tale of Timothy Fortune, a bank clerk who becomes a minister and, after spending a decade in a missionary community on a South Sea island, feels compelled to travel to Fanua, an island that has no experience with western settlement and "civilizations" and whose denizens lead a life of leisure and pleasure since the climate is benign and food is readily at hand, to try his hand at converting these happy people to Christianity. Naive and psychologically somewhat crippled, Mr. Fortune thinks he has made a convert when a young boy, Lueili, comes to observe his religious rites and then stays. As time passes, Mr. Fortune thinks he is teaching him Christianity, having no other way to understand the boy's interest in spending time with him. Then, as more time goes on, Mr. Fortune grows to enjoy his life of relative leisure and his friendship with Lueli, becoming less interested in converting the other Fanuans, until he makes a discovery that shocks him about Lueli, followed immediately by other disasters. Through this process, Mr. Fortune learns a lot about himself, his faith, love, and the pleasure of enjoying life instead of following what is perceived as duty. Subtly, Townsend Warner is also commenting on colonialism and the English approach to people of other countries.

As a reader, I had to suspend disbelief that the Fanuans obviously speak and understand English. And although I found the novel not as wickedly funny as [Lolly Willowes], I did enjoy it.

In the novella, "The Salutation," we find Mr. Fortune, tormented by his thoughts and memories, turning up in South America, and finding a measure of comfort.

(Note: This book, published by NYRB, includes both the novel "Mr. Fortune's Maggot" and the novella "The Salutation." NYRB has recently reissued the same combination under the title "Mr. Fortune.")
1 vote rebeccanyc | Dec 24, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sylvia Townsend Warnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mars-Jones, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This New York Review Books edition, published in 2001, also includes "The Salutation," in addition to "Mr. Fortune's Maggot." Please do not combine with other editions of "Mr. Fortune's Maggot" that do not also include "The Salutation." NYRB re-released it in 2011 under the title of "Mr. Fortune" -- this is the same work, as it includes "The Salutation" and the introduction by Adam Mars-Jones.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322838, Paperback)

After a decade in one South Seas mission, a London bank-clerk-turned-minister sets his heart on serving a remote volcanic island. Fanua contains neither cannibals nor Christians, but its citizens, his superior warns, are like children—immoral children. Still, Mr. Timothy Fortune lights out for Fanua. Yet after three years, he has made only one convert, and his devotion to the boy may prove more sensual than sacred. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot, Sylvia Townsend Warner’s second novel, is lyrical, droll, and deeply affecting, and her missionary captivated his creator as much as he did her readers.

Long after the book's publication, Warner began the novella The Salutation. Now adrift and starving on the Brazilian pampas, Mr. Fortune is rescued by an elderly widow, who delights in having an Englishman about the house. Her heir, however, may beg to differ.

Brilliant and subversive, Mr. Fortune's Maggot and its sequel are now available for the first time ever in one volume. They show Sylvia Townsend Warner at the height of her powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:00 -0400)

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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 0940322838, 1590174585

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