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Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
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Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  26 reviews
After a decade in one South Seas mission, a London bank-clerk-turned-minister sets his heart on serving a remote volcanic island. Fanua contains neither cannibals nor Christians, but its citizens, his superior warns, are like children—immoral children. Still, Mr. Timothy Fortune lights out for Fanua. Yet after three years, he has made only one convert, and his devotion to ...more
Paperback, NYRB Classics, 227 pages
Published October 31st 2001 by NYRB (first published 1932)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  274 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
with us, who are old, it is small blame to feel such impulses, and no merit to overcome them. The heart is like an old dog. It barks, and lies down again....

This book is the novella Mr. Fortune's Maggot and a sequel written five years later, The Salutation. It was thoughtful of nyrb-classics to combine them here because when you finish the first story you are not quite done with Timothy Fortune. Townsend Warner felt the same, ending the first story with an 'Envoy': My poor Timothy, good-bye! I
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.M. Hushour
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first exposure to Warner, who I sort of knew in passing and by reputation only as someone, while not regarded as unmissable, seems to simmer just below the surface of 20th century fiction, a kind of lesbian Paul Bowles, maybe.
I've come across similar authors lately who are best described as "simmering" and what I mean by that is their style is quiet, nothing showy or flashy, but with a very soft and silent intensity, a quietly riotous way of trying to explain the human vaunt and vent
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I was a little perplexed as to what rating to give to this book; I had no intention of reading it, it came in a dual volume with Lolly Willowes, which I wanted to read after hearing about it in Singled Out. I knew Mr. Fortune's Maggot was about a missionary and that Warner wrote about a foreign culture she didn't really know - I didn't really care for a 1920s opinion of Polynesian culture or an outdated travelogue. Looking at the reviews on Good Reads and seeing so many four and five stars, I de ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writers should leave well enough alone. Mr. Fortune's Maggot is an excellent, gently written story of a missionary, living in paradise, who can't quite handle it. It's delicate, funny, and sad. And totally different from The Salutation, the long-after follow-up story which concludes Mr. Fortune's story in a much artier, more congested, less satisfying way. It drags the first story down enough to make me not appreciate it as much. So 2 stars plus 5 stars equals three. Can I unread the second stor ...more
William Leight
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Mr. Fortune’s Maggot” is a quite strange book, starting with the title, which uses a definition of “maggot”, that of “a whimsical or perverse fancy”, that was old-fashioned and unfamiliar even in the early '30s when the book was written (at least, I assume that’s why Warner defines it for you on the page immediately after the title page). Warner’s novels usually focus on women, but “Mr. Fortune’s Maggot” is, naturally, about Mr. Fortune, a man who, after a long, blameless, and boring career as ...more
Nicholas During
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a weird and wonderful book. Lot's to ponder on this one, both the colonial mentality of the western world, and impossible (most likely homosexual) love. And what a strange character is Mr. Fortune; incredibly dim-witted, somewhat likable, and very, very naive, he's transformation from Christian missionary to Pacific Island-loving layabout is only half the story. In fact the "lose of God" didn't move me much, it was the realization that he was in love with Lueli, he's only convert, and the i ...more
Kobe Bryant
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The first story is very sweet but I didn't like the second one at all
-... .-. . .- - .... .
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: precious-cargo
My favorite of 2017.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
MR. FORTUNE’S MAGGOT. (1927). Sylvia Townsend Warner. ****. (Also contains the novella, “The Salutation”)
Right off, I’d have to say that this is a strange book. It’s topic is missionary work on a Pacific Island, but that’s about as close as you could come to classifying it. Before page 1, the author offers the following: “Maggot. 2. A whimsical or perverse fancy; a crotchet.” Now you can get those squigly things out of your mind. This was Ms. Warner’s second book, after Lolly Willows (see my ea
A middle-aged missionary on a paradisiacal tropical island who eventually finds out what love is all about is the protagonist of this novel. It's not a usual love story, though, and Mr. Fortune isn't a missionary of the usual kind! In fact, the book satirises a view of the world that is marked by arrogance and narrow-mindedness that results not only in a lack of understanding for other cultures and religions, but also makes some people want to evangelise them. It talks of an innocence and happin ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, a beautiful book. Sylvia Townsend Warner describes the natural world and its creatures with a painter's eye. Her characters are alive; they are flawed, they are wondering, they are honest; they accept their flaws, they make no excuses. Timothy Fortune at first tries to convert others to believe as he does, not from arrogance but because he is so sure that his way will bring them happiness and peace of mind. But he learns that each can only be happy and fulfilled following hi ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This was an NPR recommended book and not widely available (I had to go to the UA library). Easy to read, a bit simplistic and tedious at times. The book was a predictable commentary, once again, on the folly of Christian missionary and attitude toward other cultures. It may have been intended to be a commentary on the weakness of man, but I interpret it as the weakness of religion imposing unnatural expectations on man.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The e-book edition I read included the coda novella, Salutations. Its primary value is in the beautiful writing. It is just a pleasure to read. But it isn't much for story telling and I really never felt completely engrossed. I think its value as an exploration into human nature and friendship will increase as I continue to reflect on it.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very quiet book. Very little happens. I often wondered why I continued reading it. Warner has an incredible ability to illuminate the inner workings of a particular person you have met before, and she provides an insight that feels authentic regarding the diminished life society forces certain individuals to live.
Cooper Renner
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever, sad, poignant, inviting. A short novel and a long story about the same character--Mr Fortune. In the first, a clergyman who loses his faith but finds happiness while serving in the South Pacific; in the second, the last months of his life in South America. Warner is a very careful and sharp writer.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr Fortune's Maggot is a fine, if occasionally tiring, little novel. The Salutation, however, is the star of the pair (if much slower to begin with). As mentioned in the introduction, there's something unsettlingly touching about these stories. Strange, and truly singular, if sometimes hard to say exactly why.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Mr. Fortune goes to a South Pacific island to convert the islanders to Christianity. He succeeds (or, initially, thinks he does) in one conversion but ultimately loses his own faith. A wry, observational story.
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia, yes-please
I loved this book in an entirely different way than I expected to love it, which is perhaps the highest compliment after all.

It's not really a book you can describe; it's better to just experience it. Everyone has their own Fanua.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I can't imagine anything more compelling-- delightful and devastating-- than Warner's narrative prose, its feather-lightness, its psychic depth, its gallant perversity.
-reread July 2011
Lynda Lagodney
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Strange but good.
Linda Van
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Charmingly written. This book will make most sense to those at least vaguely familiar with 19th and 20th century Anglicanism, though it is set on a mythical tropical island.
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Warner is a dream of a writer, and this South-Sea tale is a lovely meditation on loss of faith and friendship.
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Absolutely delightful and beautifully written.
Debra Dannheisser
Really like Sylvia Townsend warner's novels.
rated it it was ok
Aug 07, 2011
rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2011
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Apr 30, 2016
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NYRB Classics: Mr. Fortune, by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1 6 Oct 29, 2013 09:32AM  
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Sylvia Townsend Warner was born at Harrow on the Hill, the only child of George Townsend Warner and his wife Eleanora (Nora) Hudleston. Her father was a house-master at Harrow School and was, for many years, associated with the prestigious Harrow History Prize which was renamed the Townsend Warner History Prize in his honor, after his death in 1916. As a child, Sylvia seemingly enjoyed an idyllic ...more