Beatrice and Virgil by Yann MartelI literally just finished Yann Martels new book Beatrice and Virgil (B&V for brevitys sake) about 10 minutes ago. I am shaken with rage as the book is one of the most hateful and ghastly jumble of horrors I have ever finished. At least it is mercifully short. In fact, it is so short, it can hardly be called more than just a long short story. The main story clocks in under 200 pages, there is tons of white space and the last 8 pages are games that feel lifted from works about the Holocaust ranging from Roman Polanskis The Pianist to Sophies Choice.
I read Life of Pi when it first came out and then again last week. It will always stand as one of the best books of my reading life.
Beatrice and Virgil is a jumble: a writer whos book has just been rejected, a play that is occasionally exquisitely written that vibrates with beauty and life, a coming-to-terms with the Holocaust, the revealing of a Nazi war criminal who somehow escaped detection who is allowed to live a silent life of peace, a hungry donkey and the scream of a Howler monkey.
But what does it mean? I dont know. I think Mr. Martel had terrible writers block after Pi (the dreaded curse of the sophomore book, even though Pi is really his second novel) and he wants to write about the Holocaust in a new way. But he overreaches. And the book references waaaay too many other works of literature. Many are mentioned by other reviewers, and even Mr. Martel quotes a story by Flaubert in long sentences, so it is hard to really even hear Martels own voice. B&V reminds me so much of Ian McEwans The Comfort of Strangers in that it is so short, has a bloody graphic ending that comes out of nowhere and takes place in an anonymous European city.
When it does shine through it is lovely, especially early in the book (read the 3 page description of a pear) during the play that comes to him in bits and pieces by a struggling writer (also with writers block) clothed as a taxidermist. Both protagonists are named Henry, but usually the elder taxidermist is simply called the taxidermist. His wife is immediately repulsed by him, the waiters down the street treat him like a leper and he gives everyone except Henry extreme cases of the willies. Henry sees brilliance in the taxidermists play and wants to shepherd it. But the terse, oblique, removed and socially awkward taxidermist is afraid that Henry will steal his material... and as a reader, the deeper we got into the play, the less I wanted to see it.
In Pi we are caught up in moments of graphic animal violence, but it makes sense within that story and is balanced out by deep insights into spirituality. In B&V the graphic animal violence does nothing to serve the story, except to try to give a new voice to the Holocaust and it simply doesnt work. I dont want or need Martel to write a Pi sequel. But this book is so abstract and cluttered with images that it feels like Martel cut up a bunch of better books on the subject, threw the pieces up in the air, gathered them up in random order, added a hungry donkey and a monkey who howls and barfed them out in novella form. In the end, B&V was gigantic disappointment for me.
Maybe I should try to digest the book before immediately reviewing it, but I need a shower because it made me feel dirty. 0/5 stars.
UPDATE: This review has generated a lot of comments and I have actually bonded with some members of GoodReads over this review. (you know who you are). As you may tell from my statements, I was horribly disappointed with this book. But I finished it weeks ago and I saw Yann Martel speak on 4/18. I just want to put this entire episode out of my mind forever. I had pre-purchased 2 copies: one for me to have signed by the author I so admired to keep forever and one to sell in a few years if (hopefully~~at the time) it won a few awards. I have made book investments like that before and they have paid off. I had a leather bound re-issue of Bluebeard by Vonnegut that was signed and 3 weeks after his death I got $300 for it. I have some first edition Philip Roth (signed) books and a few others.. Because I despised B&V SO much I actually took the books back, even though I had read one of them. It took me less than 2 days to read it and I took the dust jacket off and handled it with such care that it could have be re-sold as totally new. I feel Karma nipping at my heels, because I have NEVER in my life taken back a book that I actually read and requested my money back. I dont like the way it feels and I have to live with that in my mind (and now out on GoodReads) forever. And my investment is also gone
I lately found out that I can give a book ZERO out of 5 stars, so I changed my review to reflect that. Art is so subjective: some people will look at a John Crapper toilet at the Smithsonian and say ART and others will say GARBAGE and they are BOTH right! What is the effing point of getting into an argument how someone feels about a book? Is this not why sites like this exist! They exist SO THAT PEOPLE CAN GIVE THEIR OPINIONS!!!!!! Not to fight!. So... with the exception of Douglass (who I sent a private message to contact me outside of this discussion) (Please contact me!) I have to divorce myself from this particular thread. Im exhausted from being attacked, sucked back in, being asked questions I cannot answer and mostly, having to think about this horrible mess of a book again and again and again.
NEW UPDATE! I just found out that you cannot give zero stars..GR counts it as unrated. Even though I still despise this book, Ill give it one star, but only under protest!!!!
A forerunner to the Romantic Comedy genre by William Shakespeare , the plot of Much Ado About Nothing centers on two couples: Hero and Claudio, whom the villain Don John spends the play trying to drive apart, and Beatrice and Benedick, whom most of the other characters spend the play trying to bring together. Community Showcase More. Follow TV Tropes. You need to login to do this. Get Known if you don't have an account. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
She has been a member of the Swedish Riksdag for Stockholm Municipality since She served as Minister for Schools from to , and as Minister for Justice from to She earned a high school diploma in Akron, Ohio, United States, in , and finished her upper secondary school in Sweden in From to , she studied international economics at Uppsala University but never graduated. Instead, she began working for the Moderate Party and the Moderate Youth League, before being elected the first female chairman of the youth league in
Tropes from the original play:
Much Ado about Nothing - Act 4 Scene 1 - Come Friar Francis
Much Ado About Nothing. Where have Don Pedro, Claudio, and Benedick been? At war. Don Pedro and his men vs. Beatrice asks about Benedick- they have a joke going on.
Messenger He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left him. Messenger But few of any sort, and none of name. I find here that Don Peter hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio. Messenger Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how. Messenger I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness. Messenger In great measure. How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
Read the original in Swedish. Read the Basque translation. Read the Catalan translation. Read the Chinese, Simplified translation. Read the Chinese, Traditional translation. Read the Dutch translation.