Maria Ella's Reviews > Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
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Mar 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-reading-challenge, to-cry-for, unreal, warzone

For you to cry at the last part of the novel is normal. If it is a romantic story… You cry because of the lived-happily-ever-after or because of a bittersweet memory, or the acceptance to start again. But to cry on an empty box that the author asks you to fill in? That is not normal. Not normal, but too emotional.

Yann Martel takes another provocative novel to another level, to test your humanity, and to test your perspective in life and in living it. He has made you see survival in the Life of Pi, and you will see his imprint in Beatrice and Virgil.

The story is about a writer named Henry , a frustrated writer after formulating his invention of a flipbook, combining a fable and an essay in one – about Holocaust . After five years of soul-searching, researching and talking with different people to personify a morbid history – speaking of which is a taboo in some places, the result is a flop. This is a big failure that led him to move from one continent to another just to start life all over.

Years of peace later, in an unexpected event he crossed paths with a taxidermist that needed his help. The taxidermist is creating a play about a donkey and a monkey – named Beatrice and Virgil – and arrange it properly so that the chronology and its true story will be seen and heard in a theatre. It is considered the taxidermist’s life’s work.

I consider this book as another genius because it touches the heart of the reader and made you transport through time, in a magical place of stripes, a country of wide shirt with all those games for Gustav and the full brightness of the sun, giving you an inch of shadow in your being. It was constructed not as a flipbook like Henry the writer would have wanted, but it has an empty space – giving you no endings, but a new “beginning”. There are no chapters that separate a page from another, just like a play, it was supposed to be understood in different settings to suit the mood of the conversation and the trail of thoughts.

Honestly, I cannot empathize to the victims of the Second World War or whatever they have thought before and after it happened. I cannot easily relate to those victims of Holocaust, or even retell the history because I have never experienced such reality. I have to apologize for not stepping on their shoes. But I want to thank the author for experiencing the feeling of whatever they felt then. It made me gasp, made me wanted to shout (just that I read the climax of the story in a setting that shouting will require expulsion in the place), and made me cry in silence. I want to thank the author for letting me play Games for Gustav as it was a quiz after reading all those “unreadable” segments. It left me a stigma to appreciate the events before. It left me a challenge to retell the story as vivid and as humane as it can be.

The challenge of a reader in Beatrice and Virgil is what Henry the writer said:
“The sun of faith came before the generous wind, but which came first, the black cat or the three whispered jokes?”


How the Henry the writer tells his story will always be different on how will you fill in the box in the last piece of Games for Gustav . How will the sun shine on you depends on how long will you cast you own shadow.

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Reading Progress

March 18, 2012 – Started Reading
March 18, 2012 – Shelved
March 18, 2012 –
page 3
1.41% "i made a browse of the pages and there are no indications that separates one chapter to the other. hmmm, i'm intrigued."
March 19, 2012 –
page 23
10.8% "what i'm reading right now is totally weird. i was expecting a donkey and a monkey in a desert but whatever happened? i see a writer made his script for five years but alas, it was disappointing. i have to read some more to see that donkey and monkey..."
March 21, 2012 –
page 178
83.57% ""During those seconds of supreme pain, I tilted from being terrified of death to wanting it more than anything else."\n \n O_o for you to chase for death - is one extreme pain, an one proof of your will to live. This is like the Lovely Bones. \n \n Same suspense, same stigma."
March 21, 2012 – Finished Reading
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: 2012-reading-challenge
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: to-cry-for
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: unreal
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: warzone

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely So fast! You already. :)


Maria Ella ^ihhh. hindi ko mapigilan eh~
NAIYAK AKO JAN AKALAIN MO?!?! NAIYAK AKO T_T nadala pa ako jan kesa sa unang book. NAIYAK AKO! (paulit-ulit lang? ahahahahah)


Maria Ella Ihiwalay ang pag-iisip kay Pi at kay Richard Parker.
Ihiwalay ang kasiyahang natamo sa unang libro.
Ihiwalay ang kawalang-pasensya sa pagbabasa ng librong walang nakalagay na Chapter [number].
Ihiwalay ang ugaling makatao.
Ihiwalay ang katatagang-loob.

at siguradong magmumurang-kamatis ang iyong tear ducts. :p


message 4: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely Sige nga, babasahin ko ito. Para magkaroon ako ng idea anong klaseng mga libro ang nagugustuhan mo. Alam ko gusto mo ang ONE DAY (ayaw ni Veronika) at THE ALCHEMIST (na gustung-gusto namin hahaha).

I still don't know what kind of reader are you (parang AI lang: I don't know what kind of singer are you - sabi ni Simon Cowell noon sa mga contestants hahaha)


Maria Ella sige, to give a hint:
a. Me drops the book for a day once I imagine a high school scenario - lockers, corridors, class with Mr/Mrs ganito-ganyan, some of that sort. unless highly recommended i shall continue reading after 24 hours.

b. Me never drops the book when I imagine a kissing scene (how cute, how corny, how chessy it is being described) and me never sleeps until i finish the whole book.

c. Me uses instinct by smelling a page (and it is a secret what page it is) and by flipping the pages (yung parang tutunog ang book pag nilalaro ko yung pahina) that the book is a goodread.

d. Too alien lingo will kill me? ahahahah basta i don't feel like reading scifi.


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