Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Hannibal: A Novel by Thomas Harris

Hannibal: A Novel (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Thomas Harris (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,86178747 (3.38)86
You remember Hannibal Lecter: gentleman, genius, cannibal. Seven years have passed since Dr. Lecter escaped from custody. And for seven years he's been at large, free to savor the scents, the essences, of an unguarded world. But intruders have entered Dr. Lecter's world, piercing his new identity, sensing the evil that surrounds him. For the multimillionaire Hannibal left maimed, for a corrupt Italian policeman, and for FBI agent Clarice Starling, who once stood before Lecter and who has never been the same, the final hunt for Hannibal Lecter has begun. All of them, in their separate ways, want to find Dr. Lecter. And all three will get their wish. But only one will live long enough to savor the reward....From the Paperback edition.… (more)
Title:Hannibal: A Novel
Authors:Thomas Harris (Author)
Info:Delacorte Press (1999), Edition: 1st, 486 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Hannibal by Thomas Harris (1999)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 86 mentions

English (73)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Czech (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
This book was utterly disappointing. I loved the first two books of the series, and this book only got (sort of) okay in the last 100 or so pages. ( )
  kayfeif | Jul 7, 2022 |
I got the book when it initially came out, aboout 10 years after Silence of the Lambs had been published, knowing that they were already filming Hannibal. I thought it had the potential to be visually stunning - all those Italian scenes, but was also disturbed by the canniabilitic parts, especially at the end. Needless to say it spooked me enough not to see the film
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
This is such a must-read for anyone who ever saw and loved “Silence of the Lambs.” Thomas Harris is an amazing writer and “Hannibal” really fleshes out the characters of Lecter and Clarice Starling in a satisfying way, while still leaving some of that mystery that makes them so fascinating intact.

One of my favorite things in this cat and mouse tale as Clarice pursues Hannibal is the way their characterizations are built delicately around secondary characters who, the way Thomas Harris writes them, are always thrilling on their own. From a brother and sister trapped in a twisted situation, the horrors of World War Two, to corrupt supervisors at the FBI, this book is built around injustice, and Hannibal Lecter’s personal way of exacting revenge on those who target the weak. Just brilliantly written and great for anyone who loves horror. Read in the daytime with happy flowers around :)! 4.5/5 stars.
( )
  KatKinney | Mar 3, 2022 |
Interesting end, but am not comfortable with the fate of Starling. ( )
  bgknighton | Oct 7, 2020 |
Thomas Harris


Dell, Paperback, 2000.

12mo. [x]+546 pp. “Acknowledgments” by the author [545-6].

First published, 1999.
This edition first published, June 2000.


I: Washington, D.C.
II: Florence
III: To the New World
IV: Notable Occasions on the Calendar of Dread
V: A Pound of Flesh
VI: A Long Spoon



Finally, after two novels, Hannibal Lecter receives top billing. More than that, he gets the spotlight. If you’re curious what kind of life the most famous serial killer in fiction leads on the outside, this is the right book for you.

He is a dandy, a gourmet and a connoisseur of everything from classical music and fine arts to luxury cars, particle physics and string theory. He would jeopardise his freedom to buy a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem for the modest sum of $325, to say nothing of some fresh sweetbreads from Homo sapiens. It is entirely characteristic that he should choose to live in a place like Florence where art and history are ancient but still alive. It is hardly surprising that he is fluent in medieval Italian and knows by heart Dante’s more or less complete works. Some reviewers have complained that Lecter becomes too glamorous a figure in this novel. They would have a point if the Doctor weren’t very much a glamorous figure ever since he first appeared in print as a very minor character in Red Dragon (1981). The glamour was developed a great deal in The Silence of the Lambs (1988) and now reaches its climax.

Personally, however, I was disappointed that Hannibal’s keyboard taste is still limited mostly to Goldberg Variations. I guess the Classics don’t suit his intellectual vigour and his meticulous mind finds the excess of the Romantics repulsive. The Moderns he merely considers rude, no doubt. But if it must be Baroque, how about some Scarlatti, Doctor? Too lightweight, I guess. But wait, what do you know? The Doctor does listen to some Scarlatti while he is driving his black Jaguar! He also now plays Bach by himself; no need to bother with that pretentious poser Glenn Gould anymore. He prefers the harpsichord to the piano, which is the height of musical snobbery, and even plays on it Mozart’s “Sonata in B flat major”. Mr Harris is evidently no Mozart fan, or he would have been more precise. The genius from Salzburg composed at least three piano sonatas in that key (K. 281, K. 333, K. 570). They have one thing in common. All of them would sound jolly awful on harpsichord.

Lecter’s background is the only part I found tedious and even tacky. All that stuff about WWII horrors and his sister Mischa returning with the contraction of the universe – no, thank you. If that is the material developed in Hannibal Rising (2006), I shall happily leave the last Lecter book unread.

But that is just a quibble. On the whole, Hannibal Lecter is a mesmerising character. Thomas Harris has succeeded to turn him from antagonist into protagonist without loss of power. I guess the author agrees with Clarice (quite overshadowed, poor thing): “Can’t waste a man crazy enough to tell the truth.” You can’t waste such a character, either. As every good novelist, Mr Harris prefers to show rather than tell, but the good Doctor inspired him to write some of his best prose when he tried to describe the indescribable:

Dr. Lecter does not require conventional reinforcement. His ego, like his intelligence quota, and the degree of his rationality, is not measurable by conventional means.

In fact, there is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man. He has long been regarded by his professional peers in psychiatry, many of whom fear his acid pen in the professional journals, as something entirely Other. For convenience they term him “monster.”

And yet Dr Lecter is relevant to us all, for there is unspeakable, even unthinkable, villainy in us all. It takes special and fortunately rare circumstances to bring it out, but that is not to say it isn’t there all the time. There is nothing original in all this. Robert Louis Stevenson explored the same subject with stirring power in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1888), as did Shakespeare in his greatest plays. But it’s a point in favour of Thomas Harris that he makes the point unambiguously when Lecter’s roaming through his “memory palace”:

But this we share with the doctor: In the vaults of our hearts and brains, danger waits. All the chambers are not lovely, light and high. There are holes in the floor of the mind, like those in a medieval dungeon floor – the stinking oubliettes, named for forgetting, bottle-shaped cells in solid rock with the trapdoor in the top. Nothing escapes from them quietly to ease us. A quake, some betrayal by our safeguards, and sparks of memory fire the noxious gases – things trapped for years fly free, ready to explode in pain and drive us to dangerous behaviour....

As you can see, the style is lean-and-mean as usual for Thomas Harris, and yet comparatively more elaborate, polished, penetrating and even evocative than usual. The same development was already apparent in The Silence of the Lambs, and here it is taken a step further. It is a fine style, especially for a book in which “fine writing” (whatever the lit snobs mean by that) is not to be expected by default. In addition to brisk pace and high readability, the book’s bonuses include some charming similes, condensed bits of fictional history, or disturbing insights into human nature:

They never spoke if they could help it about the troubled central bureaucracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crawford and Starling were like medical missionaries, with little patience for theology, each concentrating hard on the one baby before them, knowing and not saying that God wouldn’t do a goddamned thing to help. That for fifty thousand Ibo infant lives, He would not bother to send rain.

And so, Starling returned to the place where it began for her, the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, now defunct. The old brown building, house of pain, is chained and barred, marked with graffiti and awaiting the wrecking ball.

It has been going downhill for years before the disappearance on vacation of its director, Dr. Frederick Chilton. Subsequent revelations of waste and mismanagement and the decrepitude of the building itself soon caused the legislature to choke off its funds. Some patients were moved to other state institutions, some were dead and a few wandered the streets of Baltimore as Thorazine zombies in an ill-conceived outpatient program that got more than one of them frozen to death.

We assign a moment to decision, to dignify the process as a timely result of rational and conscious thought. But decisions are made of kneaded feelings; they are more often a lump than a sum.

Since I came here from the movie, I saw the book mostly in the form of comparisons. This is obviously the wrong way to appreciate a novel, but there it is; no getting away from it. I wouldn’t say, as I did about The Silence of the Lambs, that the novel is improved on the screen. The movie is an excellent adaptation, but it does have its share of drawbacks. So does the novel. Both start going downhill after the Florentine interlude, but otherwise differences abound.

The book excels in the extensive background that makes the characters much more palpable than any movie can hope to give you. Here you can learn a good deal about, for instance, the Vergers and their “unparalleled understanding of piggishness” (felicitous phrase!), Pazzi’s shameful history with “Il Mostro”, Krendler’s ruthless professional climbing in “Justice”, or even the smelly Carlo and his credo of a Sardinian kidnapper.

Rinaldo Pazzi, of the Questura in Florence, is a much more rounded and complex character in the book. He is wholly mercenary and merciless. He leaves Gnocco to die and sells Lecter to infinite torture without any qualms: “to Pazzi’s credit, he acknowledged to himself what he was doing.” No self-delusions for signor Pazzi, and that is not something common among human beings. The ambiguous relationship with his wife is marvellously stressed on the level of possessive adjectives: “whether the “our” was magisterial or stood for Rinaldo and his wife is a difficult question, and there may not be a single answer.” The movie, however, makes a fine point about Pazzi’s pride missing from the book. There he insists on being a professional and participating in Lecter’s capture, much to his regret as it turned out. He plays the same role in the book, but he doesn’t brag about it beforehand.

The novel also provides more detail about the mutual obsession of Hannibal and Clarice, a natural development from The Silence of the Lambs, much like the style, but even more greatly developed. There is a particularly striking scene of Lecter all but having sex with Starling’s smell in her empty car. Some olfactory system! Many other characters, even minor ones, are markedly different than their rather diluted screen versions. Cordell is not the reluctant accomplice from the movie, but quite a humane sadist, if you excuse the oxymoron. Mason Verger is neither pretty nor likeable in the movie, but he is a lot uglier and nastier in the book. This is not to say there isn’t some wisdom mixed with the twisted appetites of his mind (hardly anything is left from his body):

At the same time, Mason knew that it is dangerous to get exactly what you want. What would he do after he had killed Dr. Lecter? He could wreck some foster homes, and torment some children. He could drink martinis made with tears. But where was the hard-core fun coming from?

What a fool he would be to dilute this ecstatic time with fears about the future.

Speaking of guts and gore, the book has plenty of extras. If you want to look inside Krendler’s head or Pazzi’s belly, the movie won’t disappoint. Both spectacles come straight from the novel which adds a variety of bloody injuries and mutilated corpses to spice things up. Other additions are less gory and more charming. Lecter’s Dante lecture is more extensive in the book and makes quite a curious read, though Lecter’s composing it in his head for three minutes before he begins is more than a little overdone. The meeting between Carlo and Pazzi at the Impruneta cemetery, with “lamps forever burning at the graves”, is positively Gothic. I have no idea why the movie skipped that scene. It could have taken no more than a few minutes and it would have looked spectacular.

The most notable missing character from the movie is Margot Mason, Verger’s formidable sister. It is a pity that Mr Harris falls for the annoying cliché that lesbians must be mountains of muscles, just as untrue as that Italian diplomats must speak ungrammatical English, but more the pity that Margot was skipped in the movie. Corinna Everson would have done splendid job playing her. The final brother-sister showdown is predictably outlandish, but it seems appropriate to the parties involved.

On the other hand, the naughty games of Margot and Barney form an entirely irrelevant subplot, and pretty dull to boot. This is where the movie feels like the biggest improvement: pruning. The deer hunting in Virginia is missing too, and it is well lost. It stretches Lecter’s passion for dangerous living almost to the breaking point and slows the pace too much at a crucial moment.

Some scenes common to both mediums are decidedly improved on the screen. My favourite is the meeting between Lecter and Allegra, Pazzi’s wife, in the opera. Lecter’s killer praise about New England (“I’ve enjoyed some excellent meals there”) that nearly chokes “Commendatore Pazzi” on his champagne belongs to the movie alone. No Dante sonnet in the book, either. It’s a musical score, much less effective; and Allegra is renamed to the rather more ordinary Laura. The Bracelet Operation is rather ponderous in the book, including one pickpocket more and several detours. It is far shorter and more intense in the movie, particularly the moment when Lecter buys a newspaper and has a good look at his stalker.

There are plenty of small but ingenious touches in the movie missing from the book. Some cute examples include Clarice on the phone with Pazzi and, accidentally, Lecter; the fragrant letter and the video tape as crucial evidence; and Cordell’s having too much of Verger’s contempt and pushing his wheelchair for one last time.

The ending is the only really great difference between the novel and the movie. The original version has been severely criticised by many reviewers. It is indeed rather like a surreal fairy tale. But it’s less unconvincing than I expected. Clarice finally comes to terms with her long-dead father. The moment seems suitable and Starling is bound to be changed by the event. After all, among plenty of other things, Dr Lecter is a psychiatrist. This is a fine opportunity for him to demonstrate his professional skill. I agree with him psychology is not a science, but this is not to say it is useless. Starling’s transformation is admittedly incredible. But it doesn’t come out of the blue. An effort is made to prepare the reader for it.

Perhaps this is reading too much in the whole thing. Perhaps the ending is simply the author’s way to say that he doesn’t like sequels. This one doesn’t necessarily preclude more sequels, but it certainly makes them unlikely. More than twenty years later, it seems that there will be no more Lecter-Clarice adventures. This is probably a good thing.

All in all, speaking of the book alone, Hannibal is a fine thriller, fast-paced, well-written, spine-tingling and thought-provoking; also one that the screen has not made obsolete. Hannibal Lecter remains one of the most compelling and justly famous characters created by a modern writer. The Doctor alone has secured Mr Harris a footnote in literary history. This is no mean achievement. Think about the zillions of writers, many of them best-sellers or Nobel Prize winners in their time, totally forgotten but a few generations later; they are not even footnotes today. Mr Harris will be remembered. Indeed, with Hannibal he made his footnote a little bigger.

“It’s hard and ugly to know somebody can understand you without even liking you.” So says Clarice in a rare moment of wisdom. I suspect Thomas Harris doesn’t like people much. But he does understand something about their dark side; and while the final result is sometimes hard to read, it is never ugly. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Jul 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Harrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bitz, UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grimaldi, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
You would think that such a day would tremble to begin...
First words
Clarice Starling's Mustang boomed up the entrance ramp at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Massachusetts Avenue, a headquarters rented from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the interest of economy.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

You remember Hannibal Lecter: gentleman, genius, cannibal. Seven years have passed since Dr. Lecter escaped from custody. And for seven years he's been at large, free to savor the scents, the essences, of an unguarded world. But intruders have entered Dr. Lecter's world, piercing his new identity, sensing the evil that surrounds him. For the multimillionaire Hannibal left maimed, for a corrupt Italian policeman, and for FBI agent Clarice Starling, who once stood before Lecter and who has never been the same, the final hunt for Hannibal Lecter has begun. All of them, in their separate ways, want to find Dr. Lecter. And all three will get their wish. But only one will live long enough to savor the reward....From the Paperback edition.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.38)
0.5 21
1 94
1.5 14
2 214
2.5 35
3 552
3.5 97
4 489
4.5 34
5 300

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 173,536,568 books! | Top bar: Always visible