Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel

BEST OF 2010

I am still debating the decision to make this a "best of" because I don't know if the novel is too heavy handed. A novel about the Holocaust and animal rights. Of course I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this novel. But, am I enjoying it because (on some level) I agree with what is being presented? Or, is this a superior novel?

Firstly, this is postmodern literature run wild. The novel is a novel within a novel within a play. And, the author is a character within the novel, indirectly. In fact, it is possible to say the author is the characters. Beatrice and Virgil is an experiment in a dizzying literary world.

Secondly, meta narrative is the best way to describe the purpose of the novel. Martel wishes to present the real world (on a large scale) as a novel (on a small scale). Martel wishes to push the boundaries of literature and history in order to reinvent the way we view our history. And, to reinvent the way we think of our past, present, and future. History is very much being attacked and adored throughout.

Beatrice and Virgil has not received the best reviews. I understand the issues. Few readers wish to take part in the literary games Martel is playing (the play, the novel within the novel, the animals as Jews, etc, etc, etc). Beatrice and Virgil is not The Life of Pi. Both novels are playful and harsh. But, Beatrice and Virgil is smarter (for the most part. There are the few occasions where Martel appears to be speaking down to the reader).

Usually, a "best of" receives an A or above. But, there are so many issues taking place within the novel. But, I have to respect the attempt and the risks.


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