Alvin's Reviews > The World as I Found It

The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

liked it

I've always been a fan of Bertrand Russell's popular writings, and Wittgenstein is a fascinating character, so I was really hoping this novel would be great. Alas, no. Duffy tries for purple prose, but ends up just being pretentious. Example: at one point he describes the air as concupiscent. Seriously? I love character-driven novels, but I'm 200 pages into this behemoth and I still have little idea what Wittgenstein wants or what makes him tick. Duffy also believes the philosophical arguments are interesting, but for all their practical implications the characters might as well be arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. For all that, there are a few good scenes of life in the intellectual hot-houses of Cambridge and haute bourgeois Vienna, but I'm pretty sure I can't finish this.

OK, I did go and finish and it improved toward the end. The world wars, Wittgenstein's sympathetic sister Gretle, everyone aging, and Wittgenstein's loathsome rough trade boyfriend Max liven things up a bit. I'll bump this up to three stars, but just barely.
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Derrik Sounds like you had the same problem I'm having only 50 or so pages in. On the face of it, it's pretentious enough to admit that you're reading a historical-fiction account of Wittgenstein and Russell, but then the author drives it home when he "describes the air as concupiscent". Hahaha...

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