Beatrice and Virgil
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Beatrice and Virgil

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  12,650 ratings  ·  2,382 reviews
When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey—named Beatrice and Virgil—and the epic journey they undertake together.

With all the spirit and originality that made...more
Paperback, 226 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Melinda
Mar 15, 2011 Melinda rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy cruelty to animals
Recommended to Melinda by: I loved Life of Pi, so I read it
I literally just finished Yann Martel's new book Beatrice and Virgil (B&V 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 more 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 Holocaus...more
Trish
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. Killed...nay, massacred, defaced, defiled, tortured, and hu...more
Mark
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...more
Paul
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 s...more
Rita
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 symboli...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
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 cliché here, I was "blown away" by how fantastic it was. If you haven't read it, I hope...more
Robin
What's wrong with it? All the literary devices are stale (the play
within a novel, the big chunks copied out of a story by Flaubert that
is equally uninterestingly presented, the post-modernist writer
writing about a writer who is himself, the tedious Holocaust
allegorical back story is not even mildly interesting or mysterious,
the talking animals, the waiting for godot thing [it's been done, we
hear:]...yuck.) None of the characters are interesting. There is no
plot, really, which is OK (that can be...more
Dianah
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...more
Stephanie
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 po...more
Andi
I am a child of postmodern literature. In college, my postmodern lit class with Samuel Smith was my favorite lit course because it gave me the framework to talk about all the things I love – metanarrative, self-referentiality, deconstruction. Yann Martel’s new book Beatrice and Virgil contains all these things – a play within a novel, the commentary on writing that applies to the book itself, a complexity of story lines that can, ultimately, be broken down into one central theme – the value of s...more
Naomi
I really liked parts of this book - the play within the story was pretty interesting. However, the book as a whole seemed to be one long explanation for why Martel hasn't published anything since Life of Pi, and frankly, I don't care why he hasn't written since then. I don't think that authors "owe" us anything just because they write one really good book - if that's all they write, that's fine, it's awesome that they gave us that much.

Martel seems to be both trying to excuse not having publishe...more
Kathyladner
Complete opposite of his first book The Life of Pi which was intriguing, fascinating, different and positive. While this story is also written through symbolism with the intent to make you analyze and interpret, the net result leaves you feeling used. Having said that it is extremely well written. The story within a story within a story is intriguing. All of it has serious potential but ultimately very dissatisfying. Spoiler alert: The story begins with an author's story getting rejected because...more
marymurtz
Oh.
My.
God.

I finished this book in less than a day - I could not stop reading it. Yann Martel is one of the most brilliant writers and ever since I read (and was haunted by) Life of Pi, I've been looking forward to reading his next novel.

A Booklist reviewer called this book "a fable-type story with iceberg-deep dimensions reaching far below the surface of its general premise."

A young author named Henry L'Hote wrote a hugely successful book, but his second novel, eagerly awaited, is pitched to...more
Cameron
Let me preface by saying that I liked The Life of Pi. I loved it, in fact. It is a fantastic novel that I would enjoy reading again and again.

When I got Yann Martel's later novel, Beatrice and Virgil, I wasn't expecting something like the Life of Pi.But, in a way, that is exactly what I got. Only it was a confused, convoluted, and atrocious version of the book that I had loved so much.

The premise of this book, where an author is convinced to help an elderly taxidermist with his allegorical off-o...more
Maria
Envolvente é a melhor palavra para definir este livro. Com uma história lindíssima, entre Beatriz e Virgílio, Yann Martel define muito bem os horrores do Holocausto.
Henry, um conhecido e reputado escritor de best-sellers sai do seu país natal quando um livro que projectara de uma forma diferente e em que relatava os horrores do Holocausto lhe é vetado pela sua editora. Decide partir com a mulher para uma outra cidade e aí fazer uma nova vida, completamente diferente do que havia feito até agora....more
Tanuj Solanki
The lousiest book I've found myself reading in recent times. I will finish it. The amazement at the sheer banality of it has forced me till now, and I hope Martel saves it from here on.
Arun Divakar
Many an object that is a rage during our childhood days becomes a relic as we grow up. The swift current of time ensures that most inanimate objects are not spared this fate. I can remember a few such things : the audio casette player, the VHS player, cable television and so forth. Advancements whether in technology,time or humanity itself tend to dig graves for such items and then walk off without so much as a shrug to their own inevitable deaths waiting in the wing. Another example is Taxiderm...more
Shanil
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Figlewicz
I can't believe this story only got 3 stars in the cumulative rating. I know I love Yann Martel, and I personally relate to this book, but I thought it was written brilliantly - and I mean BRILLIANTLY!!!

It's a very tough book to read. I felt like I had experienced something close to the pain of the Holocaust when I finished it. It tore up my insides and made me bleed. I still can't think of it without feeling angst and sorrow in my heart.

It's confusing, but in a good way. I think readers SHOULD...more
Miguel
Beatriz e Virgílio é um livro agitante e assustador, onde as coincidências são certezas. À semelhança da outra obra que li de Yann Martel, o início é espantoso, mas depois algo se desmorona e fui invadido por uma sensação de incompletude.
O Holocausto é tratado com muita precisão histórica aquando da sua inserção na literatura, enquanto que as Guerras estão muitas vezes sob alegorias.
Está muito bem escrito e confirma o talento do autor.
Neha
“To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. The shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun.”

“We overvalue words, they are just refined grunts.”

“Words are cold, muddy toads trying to understand spirits dancing in a field.”

I always felt that words are so strong that they can shatter the silence and scream the truth hoarse... but this book just makes me believe that nothing is more powerful than silence... it can be killing, tormenting, poignant, threatening, cla...more
Alayne Bushey
What is Beatrice And Virgil about?

The question of “about-ness” is asked more than once in Yann Martel’s latest novel. In reference to our main character Henry, “What is this book about?” is asked of his latest novel regarding the Holocaust. When Henry’s publishers and editors don’t “get” his work, he gives up writing for a time, moves to a big city with his wife, adopts a dog and cat, gets his wife pregnant, and meets another Henry; a taxidermist writing a play. In this play, the taxidermist has...more
Tawny
I was sorry to read the Publisher’s Weekly review of this novel. I couldn’t disagree more with the reviewer’s take on this book.

The Life of Pi is one of my all-time favorite novels, so when Yann Martel published his latest novel, I was hoping for more of the same: a novel that would touch my heart and haunt my consciousness. So I ran right out and spent the big bucks for the hard-bound copy. Beatrice and Virgil did more than touch my heart; it tore it out and handed it to me on a plate. And I me...more
Ryan
Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel Author of Life of Pi*, is perhaps best approached as an interesting failure.

The first time I ever heard the expression "interesting failure," I was in my third year of university when a professor recommended Don DeLillo's Mao II as a book worth reading if I was interested in reading an "interesting failure."

It was OK.

Since then, I've been wary of this label as I find it difficult to keep up with the interesting successes on my "to read" list. Still, my wife ha...more
Jon
When I started reading this book, I knew nothing about it except that I very much liked "Life of Pi" and that judging from the title, and as a lover of the Divine Comedy, I was probably in for a treat. But for me the book never got off the ground. Since I finished it last night I've looked around on the internet and learned that it has excited both great admiration and great hostility. It's gotten very negative reviews from the big outlets--most notably from Michiko Kakutani in the NY Times. I s...more
Jim Watkins
I wasn't going to write a review for this book, but seeing the reviews that have been posted I feel compelled to make some input.

I'm biased, I find that this is another wonderful book by this author. A lot more philosophical and pragmatic, but still filled with great imagery and metaphor. A story about stories. And that's what everyone seems to have missed. This is the exact sequel to Life of Pi, which ended with a pretty brutal section and a reverie on the nature and meaning of stories. This bo...more
Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria Ella
For you to cry at the last part of the novel is normal. If it is a romantic story… You cry because of the lived-happily-ever-after or because of a bittersweet memory, or the acceptance to start again. But to cry on an empty box that the author asks you to fill in? That is not normal. Not normal, but too emotional.

Yann Martel takes another provocative novel to another level, to test your humanity, and to test your perspective in life and in living it. He has made you see survival in the Life of P...more
Shar
Like many of my friends, I picked up Life of Pi (Martel's previous novel, a Booker Prize winner) because of its cover. I was intrigued by its premise and I ended up taking it home with me. It was what I was hoping for: a completely unique and utterly convincing take on a deceptively simple story of human survival. I was impressed by the book, moved by its intensity, and desperate to discuss it with others. Because there was something I didn't quite "get" about the novel, something I didn't like...more
Lauren Mckinney
My eleven-year-old son read this book, because he loved Life of Pi better than anything else he ever read. (Me? I felt completely betrayed by Life of Pi's ending.) He kept saying to me, "You need to read this and tell me what you think."

Wow. This is a powerful tiny novella, rich in symbolism and packing a huge emotional wallop. Although I'm normally the first person to be turned off by postmodern self-referentiality, it didn't bother me here. Martel's narrator is transparently a stand-in for him...more
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Yann Martel is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of peripatetic Canadian parents. He grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario and Mexico, and has continued travelling as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India. Martel refers to his travels as, “seeing the same play on a whole lot of

...more
More about Yann Martel...
Life of Pi The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios Self What is Stephen Harper Reading?: Yann Martel's Recommended Reading for a Prime Minister and Book Lovers of All Stripes 101 Letters to a Prime Minister: The Complete Letters to Stephen Harper

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“Just as music is noise that makes sense, a painting is colour that makes sense, so a story is life that makes sense.” 49 likes
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