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Island of Demons

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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Many men dream of running away to a tropical island and living surrounded by beauty and exotic exuberance. Walter Spies did more than dream. He actually did it. In the 1920s and 30s, Walter Spies - ethnographer, choreographer, film maker, natural historian and painter - transformed the perception of Bali from that of a remote island to become the site for Western fantasies ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Monsoon Books (first published August 1st 2009)
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3.35  · 
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 ·  66 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Richard Derus
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Publisher Says: Many men dream of running away to a tropical island and living surrounded by beauty and exotic exuberance. Walter Spies did more than dream. He actually did it. In the 1920s and 30s, Walter Spies - ethnographer, choreographer, film maker, natural historian and painter - transformed the perception of Bali from that of a remote island to become the site for Western fantasies about Paradise and it underwent an influx of foreign visitors. The rich and famous flocked to Spies' hou ...more
Hendrik
Nigel Barley ist mir bereits durch seinen Reisebericht "Hallo Mister Puttymann" bekannt. Darin erzählt er von seinen Erlebnissen bei den Toraja auf Sulawesi. Dieses Buch hat mich derart begeistert, dass ich kurz darauf selbst nach Indonesien gefahren bin. Natürlich war ich auch in Ubud auf Bali gewesen, wo das künstlerische Multitalent Walter Spies bis heute bleibende Spuren hinterlassen hat.
Island of Demons ist zugleich Romanbiografie und Kulturgeschichte der Insel Bali. Man erfährt wirklich v
...more
Caroline
Nov 20, 2010 rated it liked it
[Island of Demons] by Nigel Barley is an interestingly creative historical fictitious romp through Bali during the 1920s and 1930s when Indonesia was still under Dutch rule.

The book centers around Martin Spies, a bon vivant German artist, has made Bali his home and his people, and his relationship with Rudi Bonnet, a Dutch painter and other famous luminaries such as Noel Coward, Barbara Hutton, Charlie Chaplin and Margaret Meade. There are joyous escapades throughout the book, lighthearted but
...more
Tim Hannigan
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
The artist Walter Spies was not shy about taking liberties himself, so he would probably be amused to know that more than a few liberties have been taken with the facts of his own life story in the interests of turning it into rollicking historical fiction.

More than 60 years since Spies’ death, writer and anthropologist Nigel Barley has raided the archives and made him the subject of his latest novel, “Island of Demons.” Spies was German, but he will forever be associated with his adopted home,
...more
Michael Bohli
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Nigel Barley erzählt nicht etwa einen selbst erlebten Reisebericht in "Bali - Das letzte Paradies", sondern die musischen Ausschweifungen von Auswanderer in den 1920er-Jahren. Der Autor lässt die Leser dabei die in Kultur der Balinesen eintauchen und die Zusammenprälle der Welten in einer Unterhaltsamen Sprache passieren.
Am Ende ist das Buch leider etwas mehr Unterhaltung als Lehrstunde, Freude machte es aber immer. Und Reiselust entsteht sowieso.
Nikki
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book during my trip to Bali, to get a better idea of the Ubud circle of artists and Barley does a great job in making it come alive. We learn about the German artist Walter Spies who started it all and his Dutch friend Rudolf Bonnet (who acts as the Narrator here), as well as all their famous visitors like Charlie Chaplin, Barbara Hutton and Vicki Baum. The only reason I'm not giving it five stars (which I award only to books I found absolutely perfect) is that it dragged on towards ...more
Josine van Heek
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia
Excellent book to read when you are on the Indonesian island of Bali or when you are preparing for such a trip.
John Kitcher
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5*

Some say don't judge a book by its cover but l am inclined to disagree with that and almost always do. Those books with pastel pictures on the font and huge capitalized Times New Roman fonts - I will never ever read one of those again. With that in mind, l tend to let my standards slip when buying second-hand books, hence this little number.

Walter Spies (pronounced Piss by some) is an eccentric German living on Bali before WWII. He lives the life of an aristocrat in that he cares little for
...more
Johanna DeBiase
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: asia, recommended
I read about 60% and realized I had been bored with it for the last 30%. The narrator's voice is great. I loved learning more about the onset of ex-pats in Bali, especially Ubud, in the 1930s. Currently traveling in Ubud, I could see first - hand what the book referred to and learn about some cultural origins. But ultimately that thread was too thin to keep me interested in a vague narrative arc.
Jane
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ein episodenhaftes Buch, zusammengehalten vielleicht von der Liebe zur Kunst und zwischen Männern, im Bali der 1930er Jahre und einer eleganten, bewusst eingesetzten Sprache, die sofort farbenprächtige Bilder im Kopf entstehen lässt.
Der Ich-Erzähler ist der real existente Rudolf Bonnet, ein – soweit es mich betraf – inzwischen zu unrecht in Vergessenheit geratener Maler aus den Niederlanden, der 1929 nach Bali kam und dort die Bekanntschaft mit dem schillernden Walter Spies machte, einer ebenfal
...more
Lake Lady
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this bit of historical fiction to get a glimpse into the heyday of Westerners "discovering" Bali in the 1920s and 30s. I've been coming to Bali for over a decade and this book had some delightful insights and generally captures the roots of the culture of this intriguing island. The focus of the book is the life of the artist Walter Spies and his flamboyant exploits on the island and the many many celebrities of the day that crossed his path, from Margaret Mead and Gregory Bat ...more
Sven Mollet
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not sure why this book is categorized as Gay. Apart form the fact it has a fictional gay character and that it focuses on a historical personage that is also gay, I found the book's relevance much larger than the sexuality of its characters. It feels more like an anthropological quest into the Balinese society and its foreign admirers during the period between the two world wars. Excellent piece of writing, I bought into the plot (mix of historical and fictional) and the atmosphere felt like ove ...more
Leonard
Apr 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
I love the Barley's old adventure in Cameroon.

But this novel is a misunderstanding.

I am not sure who is the main character in this book: Walter and Rudolf ? Or maybe both ?
The novel is full of random dialogues with almost every famous person, who visited Bali in the 1930's.
I didn't discover any clue. Fortunately, the climate of Paradise Island from the early era of tourism is coming out of the novel.

I expected much more from such good observer. Well, it seems that writing a historical novel is n
...more
Catrien Deys
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This novel isn't very well edited, but still full of surprises and tropical delight.
Eileen
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Jared Stamm
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