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The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading…

The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His… (2002)

by Carl-Johan Vallgren

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4871732,113 (3.74)18

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English (10)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I wanted to like this more than I did. It should have been right up my alley, sort of a Beauty & the Beast with even more of a fantasy twist, but I didn't love it. I mostly enjoyed it, but I think my problem was that the storyline wasn't very smooth. Somewhere on the book jacket it's referred to as "picaresque", so I should have been warned, but apparently I prefer much more seamless stories. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, his Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren is a delight: a magical realism tour through the underside of early 19th century Northern Europe (unfortunately it doesn't go to Sweden, despite the author's nationality). It reminded at times of Candide and Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus.

The protagonist, Hercule Barfuss is a deaf and dumb, armless, gnome-like savant who does indeed read minds and has preternaturally talented feet and toes. He was born in a brothel on the same night as the perfect Henriette, who becomes his soul-mate, his other half. When they are separated, he spends most of the book trying to find her. There are horrific scenes of suffering at the hands of heartless authorities and of vengeance taken by Hercule. But the book moves swiftly and is, at times, hilarious.

My only caveat was the last chapter. The book is framed by a letters from Hercule's great grandson in Martha's Vineyard to one of his European relatives. The introduction is OK as it leads the reader into Hercule's tale, but the last chapter is a rather flat summing up of his later life in America and a disquisition on the development of deaf education. It's unnecessary and anti-climactic -- way too much denoument. So, my recommendation is to read the book and skip the last chapter, unless you like neatly wrapped-up packages or want to learn more about the history of sign language. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Jan 24, 2010 |
(contains possible plot spoiler)

Think "The Count of Montecristo" meets "Frankenstein" meets "Notre-Dame de Paris". Think a tale of horrors, injustice, revenge tempered by one of the sweetest love stories you'll ever read. Think misfits who long for a normal life, so-called normal people who are really demons from the deepest pits of hell, think an unhappy ending in the middle and a finale both uplifting and moving. Think colours, circuses, murders. Think compelling characters, gripping writing, one of the best and most important books i've read in years.

Having said that, one minor (?) gripe: the evillest villain of the lot, the one you wait to see punished with every fibre of your being, the one for whom you find yourself imagining the most painful, horrible death in the history of dying - dies in the least painful, horrible death imaginable.

In conclusion: amazing book, powerful, atmospheric, spellbinding, definitely worth reading and re-reading, but if you've got a sense of justice prepare to feel just a little unsatisfied. ( )
  BookJumper | Sep 30, 2009 |
Stor roman. ( )
  Anneleserpalandet | Oct 31, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carl-Johan Vallgrenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Britten-Austin, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britten-Austin, VeronicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gundlach, AngelikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ofstad, KnutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Kära fröken Fågel.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
On a stormy night in 1813, a doctor is called to the aid of two prostitutes in childbirth. To one is born a healthy girl, Henriette, to the other, what can only be described as a monster: a boy, Hercules, deaf-mute and hideously deformed, and with the power to read minds. This is a picaresque fable of the love that grows between Hercules and Henriette during their childhood, and which will entwine their fates for ever. Vallgren paints a cast of grotesques in a magical and atmospheric tour of nineteenth-century Europe: the swags and tails of the bordello, where Hercules is born; the phantasmagoria of the freak show, with which he travels; the sinister grandeur of the Jesuit monasteries, in which he finds both shelter and peril; the squalor of the asylum, where he finds only pain. The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-reading Monster Hercules Barefoot tells of social oppression, official corruption and religious persecution, but is, at its heart, a marvellous love story.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 009946439X, Paperback)

Around a marvellous love story, Vallgren paints a cast of grotesques in a magical and atmospheric tour of 19th Century Europe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

On a stormy night in 1813 a doctor is called to the aid of two prostitutes in childbirth. To one is born a healthy girl, Henriette, to the other, what can only be described as a monster, a boy, hideously deformed, deaf-mute who can read minds. This is a fable of the love that grows between them.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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