Timothy's Reviews > Job: A Comedy of Justice

Job by Robert A. Heinlein
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Apr 01, 2012

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The key to understanding this book lies in the subtitle, "A Comedy of Justice." It exactly mirrors the subtitle of James Branch Cabell's breakthrough best seller, "Jurgen." And the plot is similar. Dig deeper, and you will discover that Cabell was Heinlein's favorite author, and that all of Heinlein's later works, from "Stranger in a Strange Land" onward, were attempts to mimic Cabell"s 18-volume "Biography of the Life of Manuel," of which "Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice" was not the best, merely the best-known.

So how did Heinlein do? Well, Cabell repeatedly insisted that he wrote only for his own pleasure. Heinlein, in these later books, seemed to be indulging in a similar private obsession. If that is the case, he wouldn't have cared much what we think.

That being said, "Jurgen" is a far, far better book than "Job: A Comedy of Justice." Cabellian irony fit his mythic cosmos-building and droll story constructs. Heinlein may have aimed for irony, but his personal philosophy rubbed against the grain of that emprise. He was, in the end, a pretty straight-forward guy, if a nudist and all-around crank. This book is one of those very odd failures that may haunt unwary readers for reasons hard to grasp. The haunting, I think, is due entirely to the strange and unlikely presence of the shade of James Branch Cabell.
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07/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Nadine Good to know, Jurgen looks like a good read, although I'm not sure from reading the blurb if Job rips it off as throughly as you imply. I look forward to finding out though!


Timothy Heinlein would say "homage" more than "rip-off"!


Timothy Oh, and there is a scholarly paper on the Cabell-Heinlein Problem. It is exhaustive in its presented research. It won an award. But I have forgotten its author and title.


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