Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel

Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel

by Pablo De Santis

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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)

About 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 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 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.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Dalessius is a 20-year-old calligrapher who ends up working for the philosopher Voltaire in France during the Enlightenment. Interesting enough premise, but the plot never found its pace for me. It felt disjointed and confusing. There are automatons, secret messages written on naked women, a heart in a jar and other intriguing concepts, but they never mesh into a cohesive story. The book is only 150 pages and yet it felt like it was much longer. I found myself never wanting to pick it up and I can¿t help but wonder if something was lost in translation. Maybe the plot makes more sense in its native language. I did really enjoy some of Santis¿ descriptions of the people Dalessius meets on his journeys. Here¿s one description of a watchmaker¿ ¿Her many years around clocks had given her words a regular beat, as if each syllable corresponded exactly to a fraction of time.¿
joririchardson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Written by Argentine author Pablo de Santis, this book is the story of a young man named Dalessius in 1700's France. From a young age, he is trained as a calligrapher, which later earns him a job working for the eccentric Voltaire.This book was beautiful and intellectual. It is a book that you must pay attention to, and read carefully, as there are countless little details on every page that you would miss if only skimming. Essentially, these little details were what made this book so fascinating for me.De Santis is a skillful, intricate writer who masterfully creates a vivid world by using a curious method. He gives the reader a strong impression that other lives and stories, besides the one that he is writing, are going on all around it. Little descriptors given for an unimportant individual, or a place, or an object, hint at there being so much more under the surface - other, unrelated stories that sound intriguing, but that he doesn't have time to go into.The result is a very realistic, artful sense of setting that does not rely so much on a place as it does on the realistic presence of the people who inhabit it.I just loved all of these little details and eccentricities, which were scattered over nearly every page. Most were unimportant to the story, but they added so much to it. They were the minuscule moments in the book that contributed beauty and a sense of cinematic-style art. Dalessius accidentally glimpses the face of a beautiful corpse in her coffin, a man tells us that he carries a withered enemies hand about with him wherever he goes. Kolm tells a story of accidentally executing his estranged father and giving up his job as a hangman afterward, students whisper rumors of an unspecified "cursed" word that they will punished for happening to write down. A man accidentally uses disappearing ink when writing a woman's execution document, so that when it is opened and found blank, the people take it as a sign from God, and she is let go. An actor becomes so well known for playing his role of a notorious local villain that he becomes hated himself. A man who lost three fingers setting off fireworks tells the tale with nostalgia, likening it to an honorable sort of battle wound. A traveler sees a woman on her deathbed and takes it as a sign, returning home to his wife and never leaving her side again. A maid is given a candlestick but is forbidden to light it, lest she waste her master's hoarded money. A sculptor finally finds his paragon model, a beautiful girl who can sit deathly still, but she disappears the next day, resulting in only a half finished sculpted head and his eventual suicide. A man writes using the blood of his enemies as ink....And there were so very many more. None took up more than a few lines, which actually made them seem all the more realistic, allowing the reader to fill in extra details in their imaginations.Another thing that I absolutely adored about this book was Dalessius' view on his trade as a calligrapher.I think that what gave this book its literary, intellectual texture was the way that our main character looks upon his career. To him, it is more than just copying words in pretty handwriting.He experiments with it and becomes obsessed by it, both hating and loving his trade all at once. He develops finesse and sophistication, even strategies that have to do with his techniques, his paper, his quills, and most importantly, his inks. He describes to us different methods, comparing some calligraphers to stonemasons. He uses describing words like "laceration" or "flow" for his writings. As the book progresses, calligraphy becomes less of a study and more of an art to Dalessius, and finally, a philosophy.He develops theories concerning his calligraphy, entertains deep-thinking notions and musings, all related to us with a light sort of sincerity.I loved de Santis for what he created here. Truly, nearly any topic can be twisted into something intellectual if given the precision and philosop
Anonymous More than 1 year ago