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The Last Unicorn > TLU: Reads Like a Parable

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message 1: by Buzz (new)

Buzz Park (buzzpark) | 219 comments I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm really enjoying this book so far.

Is it just me or does the prose read somewhat like a parable? The reading experience so far reminds me of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Does anyone else get a similar impression?


message 2: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2577 comments Mod
I enjoyed the early parts of the book.

It sort of lost me after (view spoiler)

I do like the writing style. I would try other books by Beagle.


message 3: by Colin (new)

Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 314 comments I'd have said 'fairytale' rather than parable. It wasn't really my cup of tea, although there were some amusing moments (like the hapless band of outlaws).


message 4: by Buzz (last edited Jun 07, 2019 03:52PM) (new)

Buzz Park (buzzpark) | 219 comments Colin wrote: "I'd have said 'fairytale' rather than parable..."

Fairytale, parable, tomato tomahto lol. I think fairlytale is also an apt description.


message 5: by Buzz (last edited Jun 07, 2019 03:52PM) (new)

Buzz Park (buzzpark) | 219 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "I enjoyed the early parts of the book. It sort of lost me after [spoilers]..."

Thanks for adding the spoiler tag Tassie Dave... I'm probably not there in the book yet :-)

Taking me forever to read because I don't have the Audible version to bounce to when in the car (I'm in the car a lot).


message 6: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2577 comments Mod
Buzz wrote: "Thanks for adding the spoiler tag Tassie Dave... I'm probably not there in the book yet :-)"

Once you finish Chapter 9 you are safe to read the spoiler.
The specific spoiler I mention happens in Chapter 8.

Everything else I mention is much earlier in the book.


message 7: by Robin (new)

Robin Hobb | 20 comments I loved the language of The Last Unicorn. It was the first fantasy I found after reading LOTR that really worked for me. I was delighted to hear so much of the dialogue directly transplanted to the movie. I wish that Peter S Beagle had been rewarded sooner for the success of the film.
For a completely different Beagle read, I recommend A Fine and Private Place. I bought it the same day I bough Last Unicorn, way back in 1970 or so. The title is from a quote: The grave's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.

Robin


message 8: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1045 comments I was also going to recommend A Fine and Private Place. I actually enjoyed it more than TLU. I would describe it as a modern day romantic fantasy. Very sweet.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1646 comments Robin wrote: "For a completely different Beagle read, I recommend A Fine and Private Place. I bought it the same day I bough Last Unicorn, way back in 1970 or so. The title is from a quote: The grave's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace."

Oh, I love that quote, what an intriguing thing to name a book after! Maybe I should pick it up as an alt read, since The Last Unicorn wasn't my cup of tea.


message 10: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richter (StephenofLongBeach) | 1066 comments I too loved the book. I read it after Peter S. Beagle rolled into my area with the film. Met him, was disappointed there was no opportunity to get a signed copy of the book, and did the $20 pre-order of the signed hardback that never appeared. Not Peter's fault. Finally found a copy at a used bookstore. Everything worked for me.


message 11: by Iain (new)

Iain Bertram (Iain_Bertram) | 782 comments I liked the book but no more than that. It is more of a modern fairy tale than a high fantasy book. A refreshing ice-lolly rather than a full meal (not something that satisfies for very long).

The language, for the most part, is poetic and easy to read. I enjoyed the sentence structure and the evocative descriptions of the Unicorn in the beginning of the book. Unfortunately it couldn't keep the tone up.

The strongest parts were all vignettes, ordinary people seeing a mare, the circus, the merry men, the bull. They just didn't't pull together into a complete narrative.

I certainly appreciated the non-traditional outcomes: (view spoiler).

I think it is interesting that A Wizard of Earthsea and Dragonflight were also published in 1968. There was a steady trickle of fantasy books in the sixties to The Last Unicorn is not unique (WoE certainly had more of an impact).


message 12: by Adelaide (last edited Jun 15, 2019 12:42PM) (new)

Adelaide Blair | 112 comments I enjoy this book but have never loved it. I kind of feel like the light touches of borscht belt humor don't jive well in this fantasy setting, and it always takes me out of the situation. In many ways, this is a meta-narrative that talks about the structure of classic fantasy stories and the anachronistic-ish touches serve to emphasize that, but it creates an uneven tone that pushes me away from the story.


message 13: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 48 comments I finished it and I agree with both a fairy-tale style and that the second part was a bit weaker - or maybe it is the nature of fairy-tales that they should be shorter than a novel.


message 14: by Helen (new)

Helen (hmmeade) | 1 comments I am with Patrick Rothfuss on this one - The Last Unicorn continues to be simply beautiful and worth many re-reads. So glad to have been prompted by S&L to give it another read this year.


message 15: by Buzz (new)

Buzz Park (buzzpark) | 219 comments Colin wrote: "I'd have said 'fairytale' rather than parable..." Buzz wrote: "...tomato tomahto lol..."

I loved that Veronica literal-netted me on the podcast in the bood wrapup (Episode #357 The Last Beagle)! Yes, she's right! I definitely was using 'parable' incorrectly - fable or fairy tale is a more accurate description of what I was trying to communicate.

There are a few specific clear lessons that could put The Last Unicorn in the 'fable' category - consequences of greed (king and the town), overcoming fear (unicorn and red bull) and even perseverance in the face of adversity, etc.

However, this story is neither short or succinct, so, by definition, it can't a fable! It can only fit in the fairy tale category, so Colin was absolutely correct! It's NOT tomato or tomahto, it's just TOMAHTO lol!


message 16: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 3766 comments I finally finished this on Tuesday night. I agree, it read like and was a fairytale. I loved the prose and honestly, once I got into it, I enjoyed it. I thought maybe too much time was spent in certain places, but I did like the story and conflict, even if it was pretty typical "fairy tale".


message 17: by Beth (last edited Jul 17, 2019 12:10AM) (new)

Beth | 19 comments Iain wrote: "no romance between the wizard and Molly, the Unicorn did not marry the Prince, no grand battle..."

"

I'm assuming that people here have read the book by now, so I'm not dodging what happens in the book.


I have to disagree with this, as I felt that there were definite signs of a romance between Molly and Schmendrink, in the way they clung together especially in the confrontation with the Bull and then their bickering and finally the way they went off together.

I thought the writing was lovely and evocative and that the book said a lot of things about love, especially between a woman and a man, and about heroism, and I wildly disagreed with almost all of it. And I think Beagle did as well, although he probably wasn't as aware of how often he gave actions to the guys and reactions to the ladies. It was a different time.

It's a very sad book, because it's about how a perfect unicorn becomes a human woman, and how when she "falls in love" she loses her connection to beauty and perfection and becomes mostly a mirror for the hero to admire his gaze in. The love between Lir and Lady A was very fairy tale -- he never heard her speak or do anything so he fell in love with her face, and then became a hero because that's what he wanted her to like, and then suddenly she's in love with him and would never go back to being an amazing unicorn who lives forever. Instead she wants to darn his socks or something.

It's amazing to me how differently I read this as a crotchety middle aged person as opposed to the romantic idiot I was in 1990 or whenever i read this the first time and thought how tragic was the parting of the young lovers, even when Beagle points out how ridiculous they are with the extra princess at the end. So it's a book that's fun to reread with a 20 year 30 year gap.


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