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Gerontius

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  42 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Gerontius is the story of a real voyage in the life of Sir Edward Elgar, the celebrated composer of the quintessentially English tune 'Land of Hope and Glory'. The cruise up the Amazon is a holiday for the disillusioned music-maker. In telling the story of his journey, Hamilton-Paterson explores the waning of creative genius, post-war disenchantment and the effects of the ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Soho Press
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Bettie☯
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Eleanor
Oct 04, 2014 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I am not sure how interesting it would be for someone with no interest in so-called "classical" music, with its references to Elgar's music and that of other composers. But as a study of a man who has almost lost his musical creativity, and has lived through the Great War and seen it shatter his world, it is very moving indeed.

Hamilton-Paterson's writing is beautiful. Here is a description of night falling on the Amazon:

It is the moment between dusk and dark when the forest st
...more
Patrick Gibson
I went on an Elgar jag in college. While my friends were toking and poking to Iron Maiden (or Simon & Garfunkel for the less adventurous), I chose the higher musical road of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. And the adagio from Bruckers 8th (one of the most sensual/sexual pieces ever written). For some reason (probably because the Cello Concerto is so amazing) I got it into my head to collect every Elgar opus number on CD. That would be impossible in the States, but since I was a hop away from Toronto ...more
Charles
Mar 26, 2009 Charles rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book this is, generous, thoughtful, unsentimental in its attitude towards creativity and value. It tells the story of a trip to the Amazon made by Elgar when he was 63, and if that puts you off, you'll miss an exceptionally stimulating read. The only reason I haven't give it five stars is that it's not quite as good as the same author's Loving Monsters
LS
Sep 06, 2014 LS rated it it was amazing
I'm reading this now after enjoying the Fernet Branca trilogy so much. Completely different voice in this superb novel of 1923 journey by composer Elgar to Amazon River/Brazil. The descriptions reminded me of Ann Patchett's STATE OF WONDER, but GERONTIUS is more masterful.
Ian
Oct 01, 2013 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather wonderful. Elgar's mysterious and largely undocumented Amazon cruise is a gift for an imaginative writer like Mr Hamilton Paterson and he doesn't mess up the opportunity. There are rich and colourful descriptions of cruise life in the early 1920s and of life in Manaos and Cape Verde. There are also lengthy reflections of a successful composer nearing the end of his life and rather resenting his celebrity status.

It's an absorbing read and recommended for any fans of Mr H-P and for lovers o
...more
Garreth
Feb 06, 2014 Garreth rated it it was amazing
Impressive, in many ways. The level of knowledge of Elgar is excellent: the journal entries in particular are so characteristic of the way he wrote his letters as is the understanding of Elgar's particular creative process and more generally there's a depth of characterization that's really most convincing. The fleshing out of a plot from a vague and almost unrecorded episode (I'd never heard of this trip to Brazil before coming across this novel) is well conceived. Finally the sheer poetry of ...more
Mikael
this great fantasy bit at the start about a tiki dwelling at the top of a cliff standing in gumboots with wings of steel feathers neck of tangerine whatever its fantastic then splutters into the amazon and discovery travel & vicarious living travelogue
Tim Atkinson
Jan 28, 2009 Tim Atkinson rated it liked it
Interesting concept - certainly hits the 'prickly' Elgar nail on the head, but inevitably much conjecture. Would an elderly Elgar really travel down a mountain on a sled?
Alan
A fictionalized account of a real cruise to the Amazon taken by Sir Edward Elgar when he was 65. Well written and an interesting commentary on genius.
Philippe
Jun 02, 2013 Philippe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, music, 1860-1918
Marvelous story about the ageing Edward Elgar who's trying to recapture his muse in composing his elusive Third Symphony. The opening chapters of the book are unforgettable.
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James Hamilton-Paterson's work has been translated into many languages. He is a highly acclaimed author of non-fiction books, including Seven-Tenths, Three Miles Down and Playing with Water, as well as America's Boy, a study of Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines. Gerontius, his first novel, won the Whitbread Award, while his most recent, Loving Monsters (2001), was praised by the Sunday ...more
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