[Reading] ➾ Beatrice and Virgil Author Yann Martel – Freepe.co

This Is The Story Of A Donkey Named Beatrice And A Monkey Named Virgil It Is Also The Story Of An Extraordinary Journey Undertaken By A Man Named Henry It Begins With A Mysterious Parcel, And It Ends In A Place That Will Make You Think Again About One Of The Most Significant Events Of The Twentieth Century Once You Have Finished Reading It, It Is Impossible To Forget

10 thoughts on “Beatrice and Virgil

  1. says:

    I literally just finished Yann Martel s new book Beatrice and Virgil BV for brevity s 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 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 Polanski s The Pianist to Sophie s 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 who s 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 don t know I think Mr Martel had terrible writer s block after Pi the dreaded curse of the sopho 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 Martel s own voice BV reminds me so much of Ian McEwan s 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 writer s 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 taxidermist s 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 BV the graphic animal violence does nothing to serve the story, except to try to give a new voice to the Holocaust and it simply doesn t work I don t 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, BV 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 BV 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 don t 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 goneI 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 I m 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, I ll give it one star, but only under protest

  2. says:

    It s hard to review this book I loved the first part so much, the simplicity and innocence of it It was so seemingly transparent and human and honest Then it turned it didn t become something else, it revealed what it had been all along.I ve read reviews with people saying they felt manipulated, conned, tricked They are expressing anger over the book and the way it approached the subject and who it was approached by Who is HE to be writing so offensively about the Holocaust .The symbolism in the book is too loud and too abundant to make any real sense of I first thought to describe it as walking around in a dry, dusty, overly warm shop with too many odd and confusing things on display for a mind to process, but every time you turn to collect your thoughts to try to analyze one symbol, you can t help but have another already in your face I disregarded that image because I found I was describing the taxidermy shop and didn t want to be using one symbol to describe the way his symbolism was to the senses.Then I thought of it as someone singing in an echo chamber They keep singing even though the song is just echoing all around, so you can t hear the words or follow the melody since it keeps reverberating back at you again and again, changing the song into something unbearable But, that reminded me too much of the noise of the howler monkey, Virgil In the end, I decided to not try to decipher the symbolism, to describe it at all I will just go ahead and describe how I felt after reading this book, whether it s what Martel intended or not.I felt traumatized The book was a traumatizing experience I think that s why so many people reacted with such anger It was a hurtful, manipulating, offensive book But, given the context and the forewarning I think that s what it was supposed to be It was, as I see it anyway, the flip book that Henry tried to get published The first part was the essay, with the author setting his premise and the second part was the book of fiction, going at the topic from a different way And again, I don t know whether this was Martel s intention, but for me, feeling overwhelmed and confused and overall traumatized is what someone should feel after reading about the Holocaust The book evoked the emotion of it, created the residue of the aftermath one critic said she needed a shower after reading it because she felt dirty , the trembling feeling of powerlessness It did an excellent job of making its reader feel victimized, giving readers a hint of the idea of what it s like, so that it won t be forgotten The symbolism in the book is too hard to pick apart piece by piece There s just too much of it and it overlaps and interwinds and is just another layer of being assaulted in itself But, there were two things that really stood out for me as I was reading.First off, the fact that Henry the Taxidermist would never let Henry the author read the play himself, but rather read it aloud to him The first time he did this, I bristled I cannot stand for someone to ask my opinion of something and then read it to me I have to read the words with my own eyes This continued throughout the book, with Henry the author finally commenting, To read on one s own and to be read to are two very different experiences Not being in control of the words submitted to his attention, unable to establish his own pace but rather dangling along like a prisoner in a chain gang, he found that his level of attention and retention had varied The issue of control here, and mentioned again in the scene at the cafe, when Henry the Taxidermist reads aloud to Henry the author again, causing him to think, Even here, in public, he was going to read aloud What a control freak It lets us know that we re not in control here The suffocating, prickly feeling of things spinning away from us should have started up, the survival senses alerting us that we re in a trap here, followed up immediately with my favorite observation of the whole book You don t like people, do you Henry said, which he meant lightly.The taxidermist looked at the passerby for another moment, then turned his gaze onto Henry and it was a pinpoint of concentration wholly focussed on him, animal like in its intensity, exactly that, animal like As the taxidermist bore into him with his steady eyes, a single thought occurred to Henry I am people It wasn t a fun read It was traumatizing I wasn t offended by someone not personally touched by the Holocaust writing the book, as some other people were I felt it appropriate in what he was saying that it affected all of us and will continue to touch us and hurt all of us forever, you can t be removed from it by time and proximity, it s something that each of us carries with us because we re human and share the history of being human.At least, that s what I got out of it.

  3. says:

    My first reaction was a howl, a braying if you will, into the vastness Martel does not allow us to look away He puts his everyman in charge of his own story, and it is not a pretty sight Echoing great voices in literature through the centuries, Martel chooses elements from many to create a symbolically dense, but figuratively simple narrative in which a taxidermist lovingly recreates the beauty once inherent in animals now long dead Killednay, massacred, defaced, defiled, tortured, and humiliatedbut killed, make no mistake, by everyman The simple language, the brave humor, the loving touch, and gentle conversation between two doomed creatures who have seen much and suffered elicits a moan of pain, sadness, and regret It takes a brave man to take on the big questions Martel clearly studied the greats those classic works of literature, art, and music handed down through the centuries to see what links them to us now Dante s Divine Comedy shows us man, much as he is this very day no better, no worse Beckett s deceptively simple dialog in Waiting for Godot , Shakespeare s complexities in Hamlet , Proust s sensual descriptions in Swann s Way are all reflected, refracted through Martel s lens He primes us with the bright, fractured landscapes of Chagall, and the heart stopping chords of Mozart, and onward he leads us clueless Hamlets to view with him the world we lived in, live in now, a world we create anew each day Trivial is not a word I would use to describe this book Anguished is the word I would choose That animals speak for us, with us, to us makes us search anew for meaning That the Horrors stands in for the Holocaust , makes neither less potent That man is as he is, is no less clear And you, fair critic Dare you walk in the footsteps of the greats Dare you take on the challenge of making art, not war Show us your colors Later now, I find myself still plumbing the depths of this horror In describing it to a friend, I call it puzzling and disturbing, and that it does not really succeed as a straightforward story One always has a brooding sense of doom, and of something much darker meant by an otherwise ordinary reference Why does he choose a two fingered hand jesture for his sewing kit list Why does Virgil have a soliloquy of just one long sentence What is the meaning of his sic onelongword evilivingroomanerroneously Why Why Why

  4. says:

    I disliked Life of Pi, but I thought, well let s give this one a try it can t be worse To be fair, it probably wasn t, but it was no better.I think most available literary devices were used and you can have great fun spotting the various references to other works many are blindingly obvious, others less so In brief, the two main protagonists are both called Henry one is an author with writer s block and the other an aging taxidermist, usually refered to as the taxidermist The taxidermist sends Henry part of a play he is writing and the two spend time together going through the taxidermist s writing and his craft Everyone else seems to hate the taxidermist, even Henry s wife Henry is clearly not a good judge of character and it eventually transpires the taxidermist is a Nazi war criminal.This is an attempt at looking at the holocaust using animals as characters Beatrice and Virgil of the title are a Donkey and a Howler Monkey both stuffed Perhaps it should add up to something profound, but it s all such a dislocated jumble There is a short story by Flaubert heavily featured about Julian the Hospitaller, which describes the mass slaughter of animals The play which is central to the book involving Beatrice and Virgil I m ignoring Dante is basically Waiting for Godot There is a spot of Proust in there However the one image I kept getting, especially towards the end was from the film Marathon Man where a creepy Lawrence Olivier is asking Dustin Hoffman Is it safe whilst flourishing a dental drill.Most of the violence is principally towards animals and seemed pointless the torture scene with the donkey I almost felt I was moving genres at that point into a whole new perverted world was rather too well thought out and imaginative What really irritated me were the cards at the end with the profound questions on them Examples being your family is starving, your young son says he knows where he can get potatoes To do this will place him in grave danger do you let him go Alternatively, your whole family is about to be taken into the gas chamber and your young daughter asks what is happening do you tell her And so it goes on There is even a blank one at the end for you to make your own up I was so tempted This sort of device was, I recall, greatly used in counselling courses and motivational training I remember participating in a few of these in the 80s when we would be sat in groups and given one of these questions to discuss My mate and I would look at each other with a glance that said Time for the pub This has turned from review to rant and I haven t even mentioned the horrific fate of Henry the author s pets Sorry too much violence,even though I know it s symbolic the point was lost for me

  5. says:

    I think this book now holds the dubious honor of the worst book I have ever finished It s derivative, dull pretentious The story within the story a play featuring Beatrice and Virgil, a monkey and donkey walking across a striped shirt is a cheap ripoff of Waiting for Godot There are other plot points involving the narrator Henry s pets that seem to come from nowhere and lead nowhere Finally, the book ends with a series of philosophical questions that strive to be profound, but remind me of nothing than Homer Simpson s musing on whether Jesus could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it.I loved Life of Pi, but I can t imagine ever reading Yann Martel again after this.

  6. says:

    What s wrong with it All the literary devices are stale the playwithin a novel, the big chunks copied out of a story by Flaubert thatis equally uninterestingly presented, the post modernist writerwriting about a writer who is himself, the tedious Holocaustallegorical back story is not even mildly interesting or mysterious,the talking animals, the waiting for godot thing it s been done, wehear yuck None of the characters are interesting There is noplot, really, which is OK that can be an interesting modernisttechnique , but there is nothing else to replace it there is nosubstance that makes you want to sit up and think The reader cannotbut feel he is being scammed, that there must be something deeper tothis story that is hidden beneath the surface There isn t.To be fair, I liked that last ten pages, the snappy ending Martel should have cut it back and left it a short story.

  7. says:

    Kako emo, jednog dana kada sve ovo bude gotovo, pri ati o onome to nam se desilo Potresen sam i uznemiren ovim romanom Knjigu bih mogao da svrstam me u top 10 najboljih i u isti mah da je uklonim iz sopstvene biblioteke kako je nikada vi e ne bih itao ini mi se da e me ovo malo remek delo dugo proganjati

  8. says:

    You know those people who get put off by a book sheerly because of how popular it is and get it in their head that it sounds boring the blurb gave it a self help fiction ish tinge and I loathe self help and is bound to be mainstream cause so many people are reading it Yeah I m one of those I saw people everywhere reading Life of Pi for a couple of years before I caved and read it and, I have to use a clich here, I was blown away by how fantastic it was If you haven t read it, I hope you do Don t read any reviews or get any opinions first, just read it.Since the Life of Pi mania good on im too, Canadian author and all , we ve all been eagerly anticipating his next book Martel felt it too He takes an ironic poke at our expectations and his possible failings as an author at the very beginning of Beatrice Virgil, which starts off with a writer, Henry no doubt loosely based on Martel himself , who after phenomenal success with his first novel takes five years to write a second, about the Holocaust, only to have his publishers knock it down flat.With his wife Susan, a nurse, they pack up and move to another city Henry doesn t try write a new book but picks up a job in a chocolate caf and joins an amateur theatre group But he still receives fan mail from all over the world, and one letter changes everything.It s a letter from a man also called Henry or rather, it s not a letter but a photocopy of an old Flaubert short story called The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller and a scene from a play in which two characters, called Beatrice and Virgil, discuss the beauty and magnificence of a pear A hand written note is included, simply asking for Henry s help.Henry is perplexed, unsure what the two manuscripts have in common or what kind of help he s being asked for, though he assumes it s the writerly kind Coincidentally, the address is only a few streets away, so Henry decides to walk his perfunctory reply over It turns out to be a taxidermy, full of incredible stuffed animals and animal skulls The taxidermist is a highly unusual man and quite alienating inspired by a stuffed donkey and the stuffed howler monkey that sits on her back, his characters are a donkey and a monkey The two animals live on a shirt a striped shirt and talk about what to do next.As Beatrice and Virgil s story reveals itself piecemeal, Henry gets closer and closer to the truth about the taxidermist It s a truth that will quietly explode in his face and change him forever.This is most likely not the story you would have expected, or at least its tone and style is not When I started it, I had no idea where it was going and so let myself drift on its words, taken where it willed This usually pays off, and it did here too This is a book you don t want to overthink, but let quietly stew in your mind for a bit, and just feel If you try to stop thinking as you read, you ll find the story can live and breathe in your head and take you to a deep dark place If nothing else, Martel is a delightfully subtle and absorbing writer.It s written in a style I don t know the word for heavily third person, very omniscient but sharing only what it wants to, giving us only one perspective Henry s and a strangely limited one at that, yet revealing much It s very narrative , almost like there s a voice over narrator, as in movies like Stranger Than Fiction Like this One day he saw a sign posted in a window HELP WANTED On impulse, he inquired Henry didn t need a job, in fact he couldn t work legally, but he liked the people at The Chocolate Road and he admired their principles He applied, they were intrigued, they agreed that he would be paid in shares, and, lo, Henry became a small shareholder in a chocolate concern and a part time waiter and general helper pp.25 6 This calm, studied style is intercepted by excerpts bits of the short story, scenes from the taxidermists play, and Games for Gustav, at the end It s not just the style, the voice, that makes this novel truly unique I could never get it muddled in my head with any other story , but the characters too.Beatrice, the donkey, and Virgil, the howler monkey, are two characters you won t be able to forget in a hurry I finished this book nearly a week ago and they re still alive and fresh in my head Considering how lacklustre Henry is, and how unpersonable the taxidermist is, Beatrice and Virgil really are the main characters here It s interesting, how they serve two purposes The taxidermist, whose past I won t reveal for it would spoil the story, is writing his play ostensibly to draw attention to needless animal cruelty, to the destruction of their natural habitats, their homelessness Their entire situation is an allegory for something else, and yet even if it weren t, it s still highly relevant That struck me quite a bit, actually The parallels, the way we treat animals the way we treat humans like we treat animals.There was much here that I admired, that deeply impressed me, not to mention the tragic story of Beatrice and Virgil and how towards the end it made me cry But I confess, I didn t love it as much as I did his previous book It s not that it s largely uneventful It might not be action packed or highly dramatic I don t care for that I think it comes down to the style it s written in Even though it fits the story perfectly I don t know that it could have been written any other way and still have the same impact it s not a style that sits comfortably with me Even while I m drawn into the story, there s a part of me that s sitting outside of it, cold and alone and pushed away I guess, when it comes down to it, writing being an art form, there s some pain in good art Good art should make you at least a bit uncomfortable, because if it is, it will make you think It s also a very clever book, without being at all pretentious or slick The apparent simplicity of the narrative voice gives it humility, but it s not an easy style to master If nothing else, Martel has proven he can really write.That s not what I think of though I think of Beatrice and Vigril and their homelessness, their list, their love for each other, their sacrifices And I bleed just a little bit for them, for all of them.__________________________________ I get the same tinge from books like Five People You Meet in Heaven and Eat Pray Love It s probably unjustified but they seem to me to be books that are meant to be uplifting and all that Self indulgent, I say Ugh You ll never see me reading them Yes, I know, but I draw the line somewhere You can read it for free online here

  9. says:

    Wow 9 years was certainly worth the wait Henry L Hote is a wildly successful novelist who is thwarted in his desire to publish his next novel While taking a break from writing, he receives a mysterious package from a fan who sends part of a story, part of a play and a note asking for his help What follows could only happen in a Yann Martel novel He makes the surreal and impossible seems normal and routine After much contemplation, Henry goes to meet the fan and is perplexed by the strange manner of Henry, the taxidermist, who is writing a play and presumably needs the author s help to finish it A strange and unsettling relationship develops between the two, from which the author is somehow unable to disengage.The taxidermist has written a play about Beatrice, a donkey, and Virgil, a howler monkey, both of which are fully anthropomorphized The animals are running away, and as their story unfolds, the author begins to guess at its underlying meaning While the author slowly comes to love the animal characters, he becomes and uncomfortable with the taxidermist.A unique and surprising story, Beatrice and Virgil will completely draw you in Be warned, though parts of this novel are as dark as anything I ve ever read A torture scene is entirely harrowing and altogether too real This latest offering from Martel is a perfect allegory which unfolds effortlessly, and is a rare treat completely entertaining and yet deeply, profoundly, intensely meaningful Fantastic

  10. says:

    This book snuck up on me.I adore Life of Pi and was prepared for something along those lines, and while the writing style and voice are just alike, this book is totally different I was not sure what this book was while I was reading it it is discordant and has some concepts in it that dont seem to fit with others, there isnt an easy flow to the story and I can see why some people would be put off by it.What I will say about this book is that it is like a good poem, and I think that is the point It is meant to make you feel something that cannot be spoken directly about It is communicating a feeling about something anyone who was not there can never truly know At the end of the book when I was ready for the book to be over because I was a bit annoyed by the whole thing, suddenly it came home to me and I started crying in an airplane in public I hid my tears and put the book down and said wow You will either get the message of this book or not, but either way it is masterfully written and worth a try.