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The Holy Innocents

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  1,391 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Paris in the spring of 1968 amidst the student revolts. Guillaume and his twin sister Danielle, cinemaphiles, befriend a young American student, Matthew, a friendship quickly becoming erotic, exploring sibling intimacy and menage a trois in its pure form, and which spirals towards inevitable disaster.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 1989 by Minerva (first published 1988)
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Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

What have movies, love and politics have in common? They are all dream factories. Illusions churning machines that promise adventure, companionship or a better future. And what better age to succumb to their magic than eighteen? What better place than Paris in spring? The Dreamers are Matthew, Theo and Isabelle, one American expatriate and a pair of French twins brough together by common worshipping in the dark halls of the Chaillot temple:

Cinephilia, as it was practised here, in the very front
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a book to read before, after or with Roberto Bolano's "Amulet"
Cinema, Sex and Politics

Gilbert Adair was a Scottish writer, translator, critic and screenwriter, who lived in Paris from 1968 to 1980. However, Matthew, the chief protagonist in this novel set in the Paris of 1968 is an Italian-American from San Diego.

Many of Henry James' characters left America to discover the traditional values and social structures of the Old World. In contrast, Matthew arrives at a time of revolutionary ferment. He feels as "gauche as an alien from another planet". Ironical
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Warwick by: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: fiction, paris, france, incest

A wonderful novel, written with the kind of self-conscious brio that I adore. Transposing (‘transtemporising’, I suppose) the action of Cocteau's Les Enfants terribles to a more revolutionary 1968 – when Adair himself had been in Paris – it re-examines the same themes of juvenile sexuality and death-wish in a closed environment, here with a restricted cast of just three: fraternal twins Théo and Isabelle and American student Matthew.

Like Cocteau's closeted siblings, they live in ‘a misrule of is
MJ Nicholls
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, hoots-mon
I was delighted, and somewhat surprised, to learn that Gilbert Adair was responsible for writing The Dreamers. I saw the film a few years ago and recall the shock I felt at its erotic content, but the story stayed with me.

This book, which Adair insists is more like a pair of matching grey trousers than a novelisation, was rewritten from the screenplay and his original version, The Holy Innocents. It's obviously a text that has come to dominate Adair's professional life and reputation, and has b
Nino Chachava
სულ ძმასავით ვუყურებდი ლუი გარელს
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had such high hopes for this book and I was disappointed immensely. The movie is one of my favorites, so I expected a lot, though now I realize that the two differ so much, especially in the second half. This is one of those sad situations when movie is so much better than the book.

The plot takes place in Paris during student's uprising. The three main characters Henry, Theo and Isabelle isolate themselves in their own world of disturbing obsessions, games and sex in an empty apartment. In th
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilbert Adair wrote The Holy Innocents a few years ago (which I haven't read). When Bertolucci wanted to film it, Adair wrote the screenplay and rewrote the novel as The Dreamers, although in an epilogue he explains that the book and film are deliberately different. It’s a quick read (borderline novella), but twisted and interesting.

The story is set in Paris in the riots of May 68 and concerns a young American student who befriends twins at an arthouse cinema they regularly attend. A knowledge o
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my cup of tea.
“Que reste-t-il de nos amours?
Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours?
Une photo, vieille photo
De ma jeunesse.

Que reste-t-il des billets doux,
Des mois d' avril, des rendez-vous?
Un souvenir qui me poursuit...
... un souvenir qui me poursuit...
... un souvenir qui me poursuit...
... un souvenir qui me poursuit...”

Un disco incantato, tre ragazzi con una relazione morbosa, la Parigi rivoltosa del Maggio francese. Aggiungiamoci un'interminabile lista di citazioni di imperituri capolavori d'arte, musicali e
Красива и чувствена книга, която оставя усещането за леко, ненатрапчиво, небрежно писане. Едва в обяснителните бележки става ясно, че това не е истина и че до читателите достига втори, доста преработен вариант.
Фактът, че филмът на Бертолучи със същото име е толкова популярен, не вреди на романа - напротив. За разлика от 90% от случаите, не е проблем ако първо сте се запознали с кино лентата, а след време ви попадне написаното от Гилбърт Адеър. Филмът и книгата успяват някак в пълна симбиоза плав
The first incarnation of what would become Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial film The Dreamers, for which Adair wrote the screenplay and then later reworked into a novel of the same name. So basically this was my third experience with this story--I've both watched the film and read the novel several times--and The Holy Innocents is certainly the least of the three, and there's no getting around the fact that in a lot of ways this feels like the first draft of the story. Its best moments (namel ...more
a testament to the power, in one's heart, of cinema as one of the highest art forms for the modern imagination. brimming with all the elements i like the most in literary fiction, such as illicit relationships, sexual taboos, hedonistic lifestyles and a love for poetry. also, how perfect are actors michael pitt, eva green and louis garrel? they're the reason this novel was written the way it is now.
"They were miracle-prone as others are said to be accident-prone."
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating: 3.5

This is another tough one for me to rate accurately; as I feel it all depends on my mood at the given time. I was dead-set on a full four stars this morning, having woken up after a fun night of familial bonding, but now find myself in a more apathetic mood on the long car ride home. Maybe this review will change somewhere down the line, once my mind shifts into a more passionately enthusiastic state, but for now, it shall remain to be said that this novel was average.

Having se
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prvi slucaj da mi je film bolji od knjige. Mozda zato sto je film rezirao jedan Bertolucci, ne znam... ali nikako da se odbranim od naleta scena iz filma i onda sam ih - naravno - cijelo vrijeme nesvjesno poredila s knjigom, i ispade mi cijela ta prica kod Adera nekako mlaka.
Eloise McCrohan
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this book is a must-read classic, an absolutely wonderful piece of literature. It's my go-to when I'm feeling homesick for Paris. Not that the events that transpire here are the ones of your average Parisian day (and thank god) but the characters are exactly the type of wonderful looneys you can meet here. Their particular idiosyncrasies stick with you, and you'l find yourself getting nostalgic about them before the novel is finished.
Prepare yourself to be shocked, disgusted, and
Oct 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Deamers" is an interesting novel in that it takes place in Paris during the May student uprising as well as compulsive film going on the side. Therefore already in theory a great dinner dish, but there is something flat about the book that I can't put my finger on. I should have loved this book - because it touches all the subjects I am interested in - film passion, revolt, sexuality, but instead, I sort of yawned. Maybe me, more than the book.

What I do remember is I bought this book in Lon
This novel is a finely made sandwich with a piece of rotten meat in the middle. Adair's prose is solid and beautifully crafted enough that it got me through even the most self serving, pompous parts of the story. I was all on board for the dreamy, incestuous threesome part of the book (which is much better than it sounds, trust me) but then suddenly the characters were eating cat food, spewing vomit at each other, before finally smearing poop on themselves like Indian war paint and I had to admi ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit wordy (unfortunatelly not available on Kindle and its great dictionary feature) Read it the old fashioned way, in a matter of few hours, so yes, definitely a 5 star book for me.

It's better than the movie, I think.
Robert Adams
This is a case where I was so impressed with the movie directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, that I wanted to read Gilbert Adair's novel on which it was based. "The Dreamers" is not the same as the original story, "The Holy Innocents". Nor does it have the same ending as the film, even though Adair worked with Bertolucci on the script and produced the novelization later. So there are three versions of this story of incestuous twins who bring an American into their relationship during the Vietnam war ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Usually I read the book first, but I will watch anything French and I saw the movie when it came out in 2004 and had never heard of the book. I have since seen the film a few times, and was surprised both at how similar, and how different, the book was. We get more depth to the characters, of course, particularly Matthew, and we get more sense of their world. I felt, however, that the narrative and the arc of the movie work better, and the filmmakers made some bolder and ultimately better decisi ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Интересна разница между книгой и фильмом. Не так часто, когда читаешь книгу, послужившую основой для фильма, посмотренного перед этим много раз, представляешь героев иначе, чем актеров в экранизации. Хотя Тео, пожалуй, сохранился.
representación literal del white people are crazy
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thebest, eros, 2011
i found out about the holy innocents because michael pitt is my favourite actor. this means that i did indeed watch the movie before the book but to be fair i didn’t realize there was a book before watching the movie. a conundrum! the movie was brought to the screen under adair’s writing, but to suit the movie, he changed the story and re-released the book under the title the dreamers.

i fell in love with the movie and it’s message after i watched it and i needed to get my hands on the book, the
Jim Dooley
Having been a huge fan of the motion picture, I very much wanted to read the novel...especially when I learned that the novelist was responsible for the screenplay. From the Afterward, I learned that the original novel interested the filmmakers, and the writer completed this current version after writing the screenplay.

What has emerged on the written page is not a novelization of the movie. In most cases, I would consider that very positive as I enjoy receiving further insight into the events d
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really 4.25

There's a lot of sex in this book, which I usually don't like. But somehow it wasn't prurient, and it wasn't about the sex, so it didn't bother me. It takes place in Paris one summer in the late 60's, when everyone's out in the streets rioting. But it really only touches on this at the beginning and the end.

There's a quiet college kid from San Diego, who's studying film in Paris for a year. At regular showings at the main movie theater, he befriends a pair of twins (boy and girl). Th
Miles Kelly
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book under the title "The Holy Innocents." The new title is taken from the controversial and noteworthy film of the book make by Bernardo Bertolucci. It is the story of three young cinephiles in Paris in 1968 and is a tale of obsession, youth and cinema.
The book can be divided into three parts. The initial descriptions of Matthew, Guillaume and Danielle and their obsession with the cinema. Secondly their lives after Paris's grand Cinémathèque (an evocative name in Vancouver also) is
Tripster Guy
Paris is sexy. I honestly think that Paris is the sexiest city in the world. Despite the red district area, the city is simply gloriously beautiful and sexy.

However there’s nothing sexy about incest. I mean just writing the word really makes me nauseated. Gilbert Adair’s book has an incestuous element in it and it just ruined my thoughts of Paris. Yet, his book “The Dreamers” is definitely a lot better than Bertolucci’s movie version.

I had a problem appreciating the book because of the incest
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this as an extension of one of my favourite films. It contains some scenes I would've loved to see in the movie and some scenes I'm incredibly glad were left out. The prose is a bit florid but somehow less sexy than the film.

One thing I love is that this is actually a second edition of the book that was optioned for film. Adair's first novel was called The Holy Innocents but as he was writing the screenplay for The Dreamers, he also wrote a second (improved, according to him) version of
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Bertolucci's film, and when I knew that it was based on this novel I immediately looked for it. The Dreamers, or The Holy Innocents (the original name before the movie) is one of those underrated works you love after you close it; an erotic novel that portrays the youth that lived the political events in Paris during the spring of '68, with a touch of irony and sarcasm. Beautifuly written, with 3 main characters, deep as they seem, all of them isolated in a universe where the im ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi
Non mi è piaciuto.
I personaggi sono inconsistenti e antipatici, i dialoghi pesanti e per lo più banali.
Le situazioni scabrose non risultano provocatorie, come forse pretenderebbero di essere, ma solo pateticamente morbose, in quanto non riescono ad emozionare o coinvolgere.
Non c'è erotismo o sensualità, nè tanto meno innocenza o passione di alcun genere, ma solo sterile esibizionismo.
È uno di quei libri che giudico del tutto inutili: noioso e fastidioso.
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I will not. 2 31 Nov 19, 2013 07:32AM  
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Gilbert Adair was a writer, film critic, and journalist.

For more information, please see
More about Gilbert Adair...
“There is fire and fire: The fire that burns and the fire that gives warmth, a fire that sets a forest ablaze and the fire that puts a cat to sleep. So is it with self-love. The member that once seemed one of the wonders of the world soon becomes as homely as an old slipper. Mathew and himself gradually ceased to excite each other.” 16 likes
“My little Matthew, Isabelle at once snapped back at him, when two people agree, it means one of them is redundant” 12 likes
More quotes…