Friday, December 19, 2014

Beatrice & Virgil: A Review

Beatrice and Virgil



With the potential to be horribly offensive. And the potential to be ground-breaking.

That's just might be what makes it brilliant. Maybe. The ending is still too fresh in my mind for me to make a decision on that. I'm afraid I won't know my true feelings on this book for years.

Had Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, been available when I was twenty-one, twenty-two years old, it could have influenced my worldview, much in the way Daniel Quinn did. This book forces the reader into some uncomfortable areas of life and philosophy, that for a young, fresh-minded thinker, could be life-changing.

Much like his earlier book, Life of Pi, this book is a story framed as the intentional telling of a story. There is also the framework of a play. This is a story that dances - sometimes delicately, sometimes stepping on the reader's toes - around ideas of philosophy, the evils of humanity and the horrors of our world.

This is a dark, thought-provoking book, asking the reader to both suspend reality and face it at the same time. I could see it working really well to fuel conversations in an undergrad literary course, or even for seniors in high school.

However, it could also be used to lay out a thousand writing ploys, literary tricks and gimmicks. Because Martel's tricks and gimmicks are truly that obvious.

Again, like Life of Pi, this is a story that loses impact if you know the ending, so I'm hesitant to write too much. Don't let the cover, the bright orange of it, fool you. Also, don't let the size, fool you. This is not a light, happy read.

Books Beatrice and Virgil brought to mind:

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