All Souls

All Souls

by Javier Marias
     
 

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By one of the most important voices in contemporary world literature, a darkly comic novel about that most British of institutions, Oxford University.

In All Souls, a visiting Spanish lecturer, viewing Oxford through a prismatic detachment, is alternately amused, puzzled, delighted, and disgusted by its vagaries of human vanity. A bit lonely, not alwaysSee more details below

Overview

By one of the most important voices in contemporary world literature, a darkly comic novel about that most British of institutions, Oxford University.

In All Souls, a visiting Spanish lecturer, viewing Oxford through a prismatic detachment, is alternately amused, puzzled, delighted, and disgusted by its vagaries of human vanity. A bit lonely, not always able to see his charming but very married mistress, he casts about for activity; he barely has to teach. Yet so much goes into simply "being" at Oxford: friendship, opinion-mongering, one-upmanship, finicky exchanges of favors, gossip, adultery, book-collecting, back-patting, backstabbing. Marías demonstrates a sweet tooth for eccentricity in this sly campus novel and love story.

Editorial Reviews

Nina King
[R]eads more like a series of related short stories or sketches than a novel... the writing is lovely.
Washington Post Book World
Irving Malin
[A]lmost as intricate as The Sacred Fount or Pale Fire... read it.
Kirkus Reviews
The first US appearance of an accomplished and elegant novel, first published in Spain in 1990, by the author of A Heart So White (p. 18) and other highly praised fiction.

Set in Oxford, and drenched in the ambience of academic myopia and departmental power politics, it recounts in polished Jamesian prose the two-year lectureship enjoyed and endured there by its narrator, a visiting Spanish scholar. He encounters an alluring married woman tutor whose affair with him piques her conscience rather less than it does his. She, in fact, can't even be bothered to keep silent about their intimacy. Other complications are provided by a richly observed bevy of colleagues who exhibit most of the commoner academic and British eccentricities (notable among them are an economist who will discourse at length about his obsession with an 18th-century cider tax, and a professor of literature who moonlights as a successful author of "horror blockbusters"). There's little plot beyond the (unnamed) narrator's romantic intriguing, but it's a rare civilized pleasure to overhear his incisive analyses of cultural, temperamental, and sexual differences between Britons and Iberians, or to follow his peregrinations through the meaner streets of Oxford (whose beggars elicit a feeling of kinship in this deracinated wanderer) or several antiquarian bookstores, ever in search of the odd and engaging. The novel is as much a record of life at Oxford as it is a narrative. Its characters, though vividly drawn, are really little more than functional, especially as measured against Marías's only real character creation here: his thoughtful protagonist, whose confusions and insights alike more often than not sparkle with the brilliance of aphorism ("In Oxford the only thing anyone is truly interested in is money, followed some way behind by information, which can always be useful as a means of acquiring money")—translated with deadpan clarity and precision by the ever-dependable Costa.

Another stunning work from one of Europe's best younger writers.

From the Publisher
"Javier Marías is in my opinion one of the best contemporary writers." —J.M. Coetzee

"Dazzling.... Javier Marías writes with elegance, with wit and with masterful suspense." —The Times Literary Supplement

“Javier Marías is such an elegant, witty and persuasive writer that it is tempting simply to quote him at length.” — The Scotsman

"Stylish, cerebral.... Marías is a startling talent...His prose is ambitious, ironic, philosophical, and ultimately compassionate." —The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307951083
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/23/2013
Series:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
681,753
File size:
2 MB

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