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Les caves du Vatican
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Les caves du Vatican (Paperback)

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This is the text in the original language.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismFiction & PoetryFiction in translationFiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945Fiction & PoetryShort storiesLanguages with Grant & CutlerFrenchFictionClassic Fiction & Essays
Language: French
Publisher: Folio Publication Date: ISBN-13: 9782070360345  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Customer Reviews

I've been meaning to read this book since avoiding it at school, and I'm glad to have got round to it at last. I went to it for Lafcadio (the link between Raskolnikov and Meursault) but the book isn't just a fossil record of existentialist archetypes. It is, for one thing, very funny. For another, it is rich in ideas about life and art, God and Mammon, cynicism and faith. Beginning and ending with Anthime Armand-Dubois, the scientist and rationalist who gains, then sheds, a laughably gimcrack religious faith, the book tracks rapidly around the loosely interlocking stories of half a dozen characters, all in some way touched by (or touching) the rumour of an imposter occupying the papal throne while the real pope is held prisoner beneath the Vatican. That the characters are grotesques, and the plot parodic, doesn't stop each scene from gripping the attention. Gide does interviews brilliantly, especially those where one party is oblivious to the hidden weapons and intent of the other. This is also a book about its own writing, in which the novelist character Julius de Baraglioul develops a new theory of characterisation which another character has already begun to act out. Character and author then share a brilliant two-handed scene that only the reader can fully understand. There are obvious echoes of Gide's hero Dostoevsky, and at times I was reminded of Marquez and Borges, but none of those comparisons really gives the flavour. This is a short, controlled, thought-provoking, scathing and above all funny book. Featuring gay and straight lust, a brothel and the fear of syphilis, it's also quite racy for its time. I thought it was great.

- 30/09/2012
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