The Tragedy of Arthur

The Tragedy of Arthur

by Arthur Phillips
3.8 14


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The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

The Tragedy of Arthur is an emotional and elaborately constructed tour de force from “one of the best writers in America” (The Washington Post). Its doomed hero is Arthur Phillips, a young novelist struggling with a con artist father who works wonders of deception. Imprisoned for decades and nearing the end of his life, Arthur’s father reveals a treasure he’s kept secret for half a century: The Tragedy of Arthur, a previously unknown play by William Shakespeare. Arthur and his twin sister inherit their father’s mission: to see the manuscript published and acknowledged as the Bard’s last great gift to humanity . . . unless it’s their father’s last great con. By turns hilarious and haunting, this virtuosic novel, which includes Shakespeare’s (?) lost play in its entirety, brilliantly subverts our notions of truth, fiction, genius, and identity, as the two Arthurs—the novelist and the ancient king—play out their strangely intertwined fates.

A New York Times Notable Book • A New Yorker Reviewers’ Favorite of the Year • A Wall Street Journal Best Novel of the Year • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year • A Library Journal Top Ten Book of the Year • A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year • One of Salon’s five best novels of the year

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400066476
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/19/2011
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.34(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Arthur Phillips is the internationally bestselling author of three New York Times Notable Books—Prague, the winner of the Los Angeles Times/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; The Song Is You; and The Tragedy of Arthur—and The Egyptologist. He lives in New York.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

April 23, 1969

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota


B.A., Harvard College, 1990

What People are Saying About This

Stephen Greenblatt

"Splendidly devious…Spectacular." --(Stephen Greenblatt, COVER of the New York Times Book Review)

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The Tragedy of Arthur 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting take on the legend of Shakespeare. Arthur Phillips and his his twin sister Dana are influenced by their father. He was a master conman who ended in prison. He taught them both, especially Dana, all about Shakespeare and told them that he had been handed down a copy of an unpublished work called The Tragedy of Arthur. As you can never believe what their father said you can never know whether the book is genuine or an elaborate hoax. Dana is infatuated by Shakespeare and even concocts an elaborate tale of who wrote his works based on some theorists that beliefs that somebody else, possibly more than one person wrote those great dramas. Arthur adores Dana and she becomes his most trusted confidante throughout life, while Arthur tries to find himself. He seems to go through life hoping for his father's approval and always comes away disappointed by his brief visits to see him in jail. Arthur goes into writing and makes a life for himself in Europe. After a failed marriage he comes back and tries to make a new start of it. Throughout the book he narrates different acts from the Tragedy of Arthur and the last third of the book is the actual manuscript. For those that are Shakespeare buffs, they will probably rate this book higher and spend hours reading and dissecting the manuscript. I found the book to be a very interesting human interest tale and made me more interested in finding out more about Shakespeare's plays.
PrairieSpy More than 1 year ago
Arthur Phillips is one of the most original writers we have these days. Each book he writes takes you to new places in new ways. This one skewers the memoir and takes aim at the cult of Shakespeare. Who was this guy? Why do we revere him and consider his work above criticism. I just laughed all the way through this. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought this book was a little weird in a good way
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twigtip More than 1 year ago
Illuminated by Nabokov's Pale Fire and obscured by Pirandello's nesting-doll sensiblities, this novel is consistently entertaining.
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