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Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
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Beatrice and Virgil (edition 2009)

by Yann Martel

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1,2941256,055 (3.22)80
Member:atrautz
Title:Beatrice and Virgil
Authors:Yann Martel
Info:Siegrel and Grau
Collections:Fiction/Literature/Plays/Essays, Read (Personal Collection)
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Taxidermy, Holocaust

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Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

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English (122)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Henry had written a novel because there was whole in him that needed filling, a question that needed answering, a patch of canvas that needed painting – that blend of anxiety, curiosity and joy this at the origin of art- and he filled the hole, answered the question , splashed colors on the canvas , all done for himself , because he had to. Then complete strangers told him that his book had filled a hole in them, had answered a question, and had brought color to their lives. The comfort of strangers be it a smile, a pat on the shoulder, is truly a comfort. Fiction, being closer to the full experience of life, should take precedence over non fiction. Storied – individual stories, family stories, national stories – are what which together the disparate elements of human existence to a coherent whole. We are story animals.
Take three examples of artful witness. Orwell with Animal farm, Camus with the plague, and Picasso with Guernica.
Is there a level of barbarism involved in taxidermy. Or only if one lives a life entirely sheltered from death in which one never looks into the back room of a butcher shop or the operating table of a hospital or the working room of a funeral parlor. Life and death live and die in exactly the same spot, the body. To ignore death is to ignore life.
In a healthy individual, a broken bone that has healed properly is strongest where it was once broken. You have not lost any life. You will still get your fair share of years. Yet the quality of life has changed. One you’ve been stuck by violence, you acquire companions that never leave you entirely. Suspicion, Fear, Anxiety, Despair, Joylessness. The natural smile is taken from you and natural pleasures you once enjoyed lose their appeal. The city was ruined for Henry.
  pj100pl | Aug 29, 2014 |
This is a weird book but its ideas stick with you. ( )
  loewen | Feb 19, 2014 |
(Read in 2010.) A quite interesting commentary on the holocaust. A story within a story, where violence against a donkey and a monkey represent the atrocities of the holocaust. It seemed autobiographical at times? ( )
  Becky221 | Jan 14, 2014 |
Profoundly weird. You can almost see what he is trying to do, and the central question is an interesting one, but the novel is both too obtuse and too abstract. He tells us exactly what he is trying to do, and then does it a bizarre and hard-to-follow/interpret way. Apparently it is based on his real failure in publishing a "flip book"? ( )
  meganelizabeth | Nov 19, 2013 |
A story of a very strange taxidermist’s made up play of Beatrice and Virgil. A donkey (Beatrice) and howler monkey (Virgil) in search of truth and life in the midst of struggling for survival. Peculiar events occurred at the end of the 2 joint story tellers leaving me loving the book more for it. I also liked the Games for Gustav the best. :D Very well thought of. ( )
  snapsandreads | Sep 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
I'm sorry, but this allegory is no "Animal Farm" or "Watership Down." It's a cloying episode of "Winnie the Pooh" In Which Piglet and Rabbit Are Hacked Apart and Eaten. Martel's attempt to represent 6 million Jews with a pleasant donkey and a friendly monkey is just well-meaning sentimentality dressed up with postmodern doodads. "Beatrice and Virgil" does little to bring us closer to appreciating the plight of those victims or to fathoming the cruelty of their murderers. Whatever "artful metaphor" Martel began with, it ends up skinned and stuffed -- not alive, not even lifelike.
 
Mr. Martel’s new book, “Beatrice and Virgil,” unfortunately, is every bit as misconceived and offensive as his earlier book was fetching. It, too, features animals as central characters. It, too, involves a figure who in some respects resembles the author. It, too, is written in deceptively light, casual prose... Nonetheless, his story has the effect of trivializing the Holocaust, using it as a metaphor to evoke “the extermination of animal life” and the suffering of “doomed creatures” who “could not speak for themselves.”
 
As the Holocaust has forever recast our understanding of humanity and historiography, so might Beatrice & Virgil, which ingeniously ruptures the division between worlds real and imagined, forcing us to reconsider how we think of documentary writing. Forget what this book is “about”: Yann Martel's new novel not only opens us to the emotional and psychological truths of fiction, but also provides keys to open its fictions ourselves, and to become, in some way, active participants in their creation.
 
At the end, author Henry develops some "games", 12 questions posing moral quandaries: would you allow your son to endanger his life to try to save the rest of the family? If you knew people were about to be killed and you couldn't stop it, would you warn them? If only Martel had bothered to dramatise any of these dilemmas, he might have produced a novel that didn't show the limits of representation quite so painfully.
 
Beatrice and Virgil is a chilling addition to the literature about the horrors most of us cannot imagine, and will stir its readers to think about the depths of depravity to which humanity can sink and the amplitude of our capacity to survive.
 

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Yann Martelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bridge, AndyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Henry's second novel, written, like his first, under a pen name, had done well.
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original title: Beatrice and Virgil
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Book description
From the jacket: Fate takes many forms. . . .

When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey—named Beatrice and Virgil—and the epic journey they undertake together.

With all the spirit and originality that made Life of Pi so beloved, this brilliant new novel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey. On the way Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.
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When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey--named Beatrice and Virgil--and the epic journey they undertake together.… (more)

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847677657, 1847679242

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921656255, 1921758279

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