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Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Beatrice and Virgil (edition 2009)

by Yann Martel

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1,5161284,872 (3.24)83
Title:Beatrice and Virgil
Authors:Yann Martel
Info:Siegrel and Grau
Collections:Fiction/Literature/Plays/Essays, Read
Tags:Taxidermy, Holocaust

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Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

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English (125)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  All (130)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
My reaction: O_O

My rating: You like it but you don't "like" it.

Yeah. Pretttty much that. ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
I guess everyone is introduced to Yann Martel's writing through the beautiful and wonderful LIFE OF PI. I loved that novel and although it has been several years since I read it, the story stays with me.

It was with eagerness that I picked up BEATRICE AND VIRGIL. The prose is excellent, though it seems to lack the depth and beauty of PI. The narrative, though seemingly pedestrian at first, carries you along.

Martel loves language, that is obvious in this novel as well as LIFE OF PI, and he makes his readers love language as well. He also loves art and obviously believes in its power.

This novel seems to be an exploration of the power of art set against the backdrop of processing the horror of the Holocaust. If that sounds strange, it is, but it seems to work in this book.

In this novel, we see the power of art to help us process things that are too terrible to deal with in all of their ugliness. They must be filtered, subdued, even tamed through art forms. Only then can they be handled and only then can their power over us be destroyed, or at least managed.

The story in this novel, and the story within the story in this novel was lovely until, quite suddenly, it wasn't. And when it got ugly, it got hideous and it did so at lightening speed and in such a way that it leaves you feeling attacked and ill at ease.

I find it unsettling that in a novel about trying to use art to heal, Martel uses it to harm.

In short, this story is going to stay with me for a while. Though I think I would like to set side and forget much of it. I won't be able to. ( )
  JosephMcBee | Dec 30, 2016 |
original style and topic. one of my favorites. ( )
  ralu1150 | Jul 15, 2016 |
I find this book very good. Henry, a writer, who is going through his down time, met a taxidermist who wanted him to review his play. The taxidermist was writing about a fable story of a monkey and a donkey. Who would've thought that this story is based on a true story of the taxidermist's experience during the Nazi time?

Quite slow at the beginning but picks up fast at the end with a touch of horror.

Smart book. ( )
  parvita | Jun 12, 2016 |
In Yann Martel's fable-like novel Beatrice and Virgil, author Henry L'Hote, who had a wildly successful first book, gives up writing after his second book is rejected by his publisher. He and his wife, Sarah, move to a large city where he concentrates on living. Henry stumbles into an awkward relationship with a taxidermist, also named Henry, who wants his help in writing a play about a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil. This relationship between the two Henrys and the play is clearly hinting at hidden but much darker secrets.

Beatrice and Virgil has received a host of mixed reviews since its publication. It seemed to polarize readers to such extremes that the widely vacillating reviews resulted in my procrastinating on reading Beatrice and Virgil because I enjoyed Life of Pi so much. As is sometimes the case I should have just read Beatrice and Virgil sooner and ignored the people who were probably disappointed that it isn't Life of Pi part 2.

Now, I agree with those who concluded that Martel takes a long time to get to the point of the novel, but, in contrast, following along on the journey did not disappoint me. I felt like it made the ending more powerful because of the stark contrast it presents to the rest of the novel. It is allegorical and Martel certainly gives the reader plenty of clues about the true subject matter of the play. As the description intimates, these clues cover life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.

Written in simple language but filled with symbolism, Beatrice and Virgil is a dark novel, especially at the end. (At this point it is probably not a spoiler to mention that it deals with the holocaust.) Most certainly Beatrice and Virgil will make the reader think about the cruelty men inflict upon each other.
very highly recommended; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (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.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

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Yann Martelprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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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