Nancy Oakes's Reviews > The Manuscript Found in Saragossa

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-from-poland, translated-fiction, favorite

First things first: do NOT read anything that gives away spoilers about this book because, in my opinion, it will completely wreck the reading experience. This book channels down to an ending that should not be revealed at all, and you really will do yourself a disservice by knowing it ahead of time.

Believe it or not, the moment I turned the last page I wanted to read this book again. Given its 600-plus pages, that says a lot, and I ended up not rereading it, but I very easily could have. I loved this book and I loved the people in it, but I spent most of the time in awe of the author's imagination.

I will say right up front that this book will not be for everyone. It can be incredibly challenging because of the way it is written as a set of stories within stories within stories, which are often stopped and picked up again later rather than just finished at once, which in a couple of cases may require some backtracking. Reader expectations also play a role here. For example, I was reading Amazon reviews and came across one from a very disappointed reader who said that he was upset because he'd started this book with the expectation of a "fantasy work" but instead ended up with literary fiction. No comment on that one, but my point is that it's best to just go into it without any preconceived notions, because really, there's so much going on between these covers and so many different literary styles used here that to give it any sort of label would just flat out be folly. As the back cover blurb says, it's "entertainment on an epic scale," and really, that's how I'd approach it. In short, relax and go with the flow and you will be rewarded.

The nature of this novel is such that I can't give out much detail, but the back-cover blurb also reveals that these tales consist partly of "characters transformed through disguise, magic and illusion," and that idea, more than any other, plays out over and over again throughout this book. One such story made me laugh out loud, but there are spots of humor everywhere. And there's so much more, including arcane and esoteric lore, demons, ghosts, political intrigue, Satan himself, and the Holy Inquisition, and there is not a dull moment to be had in this book.

I loved it -- others may not share my experience, but it's one of those rare books that left me with a sense of loss after finishing it, knowing I'd come to the end. Each and every second with this book was just pure reading bliss.
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Reading Progress

September 19, 2016 – Shelved
September 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 21, 2016 – Shelved as: fiction-from-poland
September 21, 2016 – Shelved as: translated-fiction
January 23, 2018 – Started Reading
January 24, 2018 –
page 128
19.51% "Oh yes! Why I haven't read this book before now is a complete mystery, but I am loving it."
January 28, 2018 –
page 192
29.27% "This just gets better and better. I see 5 stars coming its way."
January 30, 2018 –
page 215
32.77% "day 19
this is seriously one of the best books I've ever read. Think stories within stories within stories within...."
January 31, 2018 –
page 253
38.57% "Just bought a copy of the film (1961). One of the little blurbs says "

"You don't have to take drugs to watch this movie ... but you may need some afterward." Sounds like my kind of film."
February 1, 2018 –
page 313
February 3, 2018 –
page 401
61.13% "The last story made me laugh out loud. Think "Gaslight.""
February 4, 2018 –
page 506
February 5, 2018 –
page 559
85.21% "I'm going to be really sad when this is all over. Really, really sad. Every day when I start reading I know I'm going to be hugely entertained, and I'll miss these crazy people."
February 6, 2018 –
page 559
85.21% "today my house could burn down and I wouldn't care. Today is completely on hold so I can finish this book, although as I said, I'll be sad when it's over.

Definitely a 5-star read,and beyond."
February 6, 2018 – Shelved as: favorite
February 6, 2018 – Finished Reading

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