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Archive: Other Books > Laurus by Evgenij Vodolazkin - 4 stars

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message 1: by Joy D (last edited Jun 15, 2018 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy D | 4642 comments Laurus by Evgenij Vodolazkin - 4 stars

In the words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different,” Laurus is an experimental novel well off the beaten path. It is literary historical fiction set in 15th century medieval Russia that follows the life of an herbal healer, doctor, and mystic who takes various names on his journey to sainthood. After his parents die of the plague, Arseny is brought up by his herbalist grandfather, who teaches him the healing arts. He becomes renowned in the region for his miraculous ability to cure people suffering from the plague and other afflictions. He makes mistakes that lead to the death of a loved one, and subsequently lives a disciplined life of atonement. He endures great suffering in service to others. He embarks on physical and spiritual journeys. At various times, he becomes a healer, a “holy fool”, a pilgrim, a monk, and a hermit. This book transports the reader to the middle ages, complete with sights, sounds, smells, superstitions, and the spiritual beliefs of Orthodox Christianity.

This is not light reading. It explores metaphysical concepts, contemplates the fluidity of time, and considers the nature of eternity. Themes include loss, suffering, timelessness, and redemption. For me, it required focused concentration and at times felt like a I was reading a fable. The author does not use quotation marks, frequently transitions into archaic phrasing, inserts anachronisms and modern slang, and injects visions of future events (shifting between medieval and modern times). Content warnings include graphic descriptions of childbirth, violence, diseases, death, and decomposition. I would call this a well-crafted novel, but not a particularly enjoyable reading experience. I thought it was original, creative, beautifully written, with a thin plot and only a couple of characters developed in any depth. Recommended to readers that enjoy Russian literature, medieval history, experimental works, or tales of spiritual journeys.

Link to my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 2: by annapi (new) - added it

annapi | 5159 comments This sounds interesting, but I will have to be in the mood for the format. Although it's not a long book, so maybe one day I will give it a try!


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