Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel by Pablo De Santis | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Voltaire's Calligrapher
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Voltaire's Calligrapher

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by Pablo De Santis
     
 

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Dalessius is twenty when he comes to work for one of the Enlightenment’s most famous minds, the author and philosopher Voltaire. As the great man’s calligrapher, Dalessius becomes witness to many wonders—and finds himself in the middle of a secret battle between the malevolent remnants of the all-but-dead Dark Ages and the progressive elements of

Overview

Dalessius is twenty when he comes to work for one of the Enlightenment’s most famous minds, the author and philosopher Voltaire. As the great man’s calligrapher, Dalessius becomes witness to many wonders—and finds himself in the middle of a secret battle between the malevolent remnants of the all-but-dead Dark Ages and the progressive elements of the modernage. The calligrapher’s role in this shadowy conflict will carry him to many perilous places— through the gates of sinister castles and to the doors of a bizarre bordello; toward life-and death confrontations with inventive henchmen, ingenious mechanical execution devices, poisonous fish, and murderous automatons. As the conspiracy to halt the Enlightenment’s astonishing progress intensifies, young Dalessius’s courage—as well as Voltaire’s unique cunning and wit—are put to the ultimate test as they strive to ensure the survival of the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 18th-century France, this brief, rambling novel from Argentine author De Santis will disappoint those expecting another sparkler like his 2008 mystery, The Paris Enigma. At age 20, Dalessius, who's trained as a calligrapher, travels to Ferney, near the Swiss border, where the philosopher Voltaire hires him as a file clerk. The job is a second chance for the young man, who substituted a blank page for the verdict sheet in a capital case, a stunt that prevented a murderer's execution. Voltaire dispatches Dalessius to Toulouse to prepare documents needed for the execution of a man convicted of the crime of hanging his son, who was on the verge of converting from Calvinism to Catholicism. While the author provides social insights into Enlightenment-era France, the murky plot developments make for a less than gripping read. (Oct.)
La Nacion Revista
"Those who believe that calligraphy is a sedentary art have not yet read Voltaire’s Calligrapher, Pablo De Santis’ wonderful novel. De Santis has written a historical thriller that isn’t the usual guided tour of the past...His narrative is deliciously and admirably sinister."
La Voz del Interior
Voltaire’s Calligrapher reminds us of Alexander Dumas’ novels because it never underestimates the reader’s intelligence.”
La Nación Revista
“Those who believe that calligraphy is a sedentary art have not yet read Voltaire’s Calligrapher, Pablo De Santis’ wonderful novel. De Santis has written a historical thriller that isn’t the usual guided tour of the past...His narrative is deliciously and admirably sinister.”
Kirkus Reviews

The crumbling medieval world casts long shadows over emerging modernity in De Santis's second mystery to be translated into English (The Paris Enigma, 2008).

Dalessius the calligrapher trained in a dying art, exquisitely inscribing the edicts of a tottering aristocracy while the printing press spread revolutionary ferment. After writing a verdict in disappearing ink, he is packed off to serve another subversive, the renowned philosopher Voltaire. Voltaire sends Dalessius to Toulouse to investigate the trial of a Huguenot accused of killing his son before he could convert to Catholicism. Illicitly searching their home, Dalessius finds books filled with the son's suicidal marginalia. But the bloodthirsty crowd, whipped up by extremist White Penitents, continue to attribute miracles to the dead boy and demand his father's execution. Unable to head off the gruesome outcome, Dalessius turns to a more intriguing mystery. The hearse that bore him to Toulouse also carried the body of an impossibly lovely young woman whom he now spies alive and well in a shrouded house. When Dalessius approaches her, the White Penitents slaughter a score of women before they slit her throat bloodlessly, revealing that she is a clockwork automaton. Dalessius returns to Paris to find the maker of such a marvel, and the iron power of the Church that would crush it.

While the prose is richly reminiscent of Umberto Eco, the headlong pace of this dark fantasy—combining elements of mystery, historical fiction, horror and the splinter genre clockpunk—will let readers swallow the entrancing story in a single gulp.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061479885
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/05/2010
Pages:
149
Product dimensions:
8.56(w) x 11.42(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

A journalist and comic-strip creator who became editorin chief of one of Argentina’s leading comics magazines,Pablo De Santis is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, one work of nonfiction, and a number of books for young adults. His works have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in Buenos Aires.

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Voltaire's Calligrapher 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
When you have a couple of hours to yourself, you really should open up this book. It's a fast, fun read that will get your mind going. Voltaire's Calligrapher is an instant classic. It's smart, witty and engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago