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Beatrice and Virgil

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  17,956 Ratings  ·  2,920 Reviews
This is the story of a donkey named Beatrice and a monkey named Virgil. It is also the story of an extraordinary journey undertaken by a man named Henry. It begins with a mysterious parcel, and it ends in a place that will make you think again about one of the most significant events of the twentieth century. Once you have finished reading it, it is impossible to forget.
Hardcover, 213 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2010)
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Kevin Lanzone Yes! It happened so fast, I could barely tell if it was real. I'm struggling to piece together why it happened. I'm also struggling with the…moreYes! It happened so fast, I could barely tell if it was real. I'm struggling to piece together why it happened. I'm also struggling with the importance of the "flip book" in it. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 m ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Kako ćemo, jednog dana kada sve ovo bude gotovo, pričati o onome što nam se desilo?"
Potresen sam i uznemiren ovim romanom.
Knjigu bih mogao da svrstam među top 10 najboljih i u isti mah da je uklonim iz sopstvene biblioteke kako je nikada više ne bih čitao...
Čini mi se da će me ovo malo remek-delo dugo proganjati...
Apr 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2010
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
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hated-it
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
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Barbara Figlewicz
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Glenn Sumi
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
What are the ethical and moral quandaries of depicting the Holocaust with anything but straight facts? That’s at the heart of Yann Martel’s Beatrice & Virgil, his disappointing follow-up to his prize-winning, bestselling Life Of Pi.

Henry is a Martel-like figure who’s temporarily given up writing in despair after his follow-up to his prize-winning, bestselling novel is misunderstood and rejected by publishers.

Living off the royalties of that earlier book with his pregnant wife, Sarah, he move
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: europe, white-author
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
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
To be honest: I do not know what to think about this book, I have very conflicting feelings about it. On the one hand it contains beautiful passages: especially the dialogues between Beatrice and Virgil are sometimes unparalleled, and even more so when they appear to be metaphorical and even concealing and therapeutic; the final with the 13 games is also poignant, especially because of the throat-grabbing pertinence with which the Holocaust is made concrete.

But then there is the construction of
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very difficult read in the end, but one that will help me be a better person... I didn't know where this story was going, but once it was revealed to me it opened my eyes to horrors that I will probably never fully understand. I can't say that I enjoyed this story, but in some ways I felt it. Ultimately it brought me to tears.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Algumas das ideias que transmite sobre o Holocausto são bastante fortes, mas a escrita algo fraca (o que era aquela obsessão com as enumerações?!), o ritmo demasiado lento da trama e o final completamente descabido prejudicaram muito o resultado final.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alayne Bushey
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, romance
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.
Lauren Mckinney
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Ben Babcock
The words “dull” and “lazy” come to mind.

I don’t think Beatrice & Virgil was on my to-read list for any reason other than its author. Yes, I have read Life of Pi, and I suppose it was all right and I liked it well-enough at the time, though I’m thinking that if I do ever go back and re-read it I’m going to feel somewhat meh about it. Yann Martel is a paradigm example of a CanLit author who is impressive to the impressionable type of young mind I had back in my teens and early twenties, but a
Kathy Rainey
May 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
I love Yann Martel's stories. He has a brilliant way of twisting the conventional storytelling method while making the reader think about what fiction/truth/reality mean to the individual.
Beatrice & Vergil is a story about the Holocaust which is told through a number if different perspectives: there is Henry, who narrates the story and is a very successful author who is feeling pressure to write an equally successful second novel (slightly autobiographical?); there is the taxidermist, whom
“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
Tanuj Solanki
Aug 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, canada, abandoned
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.
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Boston Bookworms: So, a monkey and a donkey. What's up with that? 1 13 Jan 13, 2016 12:33PM  
Amnesty Internati...: September 2015 - Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel 7 29 Nov 20, 2015 07:38PM  
The taxidermist 6 190 Dec 20, 2013 01:19AM  
Martel and the Animals 1 42 Jul 02, 2012 09:25AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Beatrice and Virgil 1 4 Jun 25, 2012 12:05PM  
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Yann Martel is the author of Life of Pi, the #1 international bestseller and winner of the 2002 Man Booker (among many other prizes). He is also the award-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (winner of the Journey Prize), Self, Beatrice & Virgil, and 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. Born in Spain in 1963, Martel studied philosophy at Trent University, worked at odd jobs ...more
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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.” 65 likes
“A work of art works because it is true, not because it is real.” 35 likes
More quotes…