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Famous Last Words Paperback – International Edition, February 6, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Timothy Findley (1930-2002) was one of Canada's most compelling and best-loved writers. He is the author of The Wars, which won the Governor General's Award and established him as one of Canada's leading writers, as well as Pilgrim and The Piano Man's Daughter, both finalists for The Giller Prize. His other novels, Headhunter, The Telling of Lies, The Last of the Crazy People, The Butterfly Plague, Famous Last Words, Not Wanted on the Voyage, and Spadework; his novella, You Went Away; and his short fiction, Dinner Along the Amazon, Stones, and Dust to Dust, have won numerous awards and are well loved both in Canada and internationally.

Elizabeth Rex won the Governor General's Award for Drama and The Stillborn Lover won a Chalmers Award. His works of non-fiction include Inside Memory and From Stone Orchard.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (February 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140109617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140109610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Crisply written, suspensfull, and with a cast from the pages of 20th centuary history,
"Famous Last Words" is a towering achievement in storytelling.

Set in World War II, the novel follows the exploits of writer Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, a character Findlay has drawn from the
poems of one of this novels secondary characters, Ezra Pound. Yes, That's right, I said secondary characters. The novel,
which examines the curious attraction of Germany to all symbols English spends much more time on the comings and goings of some other
pretty important folk, like German Foriegn Minister Von Ribbentrop, or the real murdered British diplomat Sir Harry Oakes.
Looming large throughout the novel, is the character of the Duchess of Windsor, known forever as Mrs. Simpson.

"Famous Last Words" tells of Mauberly's romantic obsession with Mrs. Simpson. It also proposes the shocking theory that the Nazi's
under Hitler had a unique and unhealthy obsession of its own involving Mrs Simpson and her brurned out hulk of a former king,
Edward VIII.

Along the way, Findlay masterfully weaves real history with gripping fiction making for a book that facsinates and teaches.
Withn "Famous Last Words" Findlay takes his place amoung the best of his countrymen, including fellow Canadians, Robertson Davis
and Margaret Atwood.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
To begin with, every reader of this book should first read the poem "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly" by Ezra Pound, since this fictional persona of Pound's ends up being the central character of this fascinating book. The book works mainly on two levels: 1.) That of the intrigues, relationships and a certain "cabal" surrounding the rise of the Fascists and Nazis to power and their eventual defeat, all plausible (I did some research), and historically based, which makes the book the page-turner that it is. 2.) The embedded questionings of human motivations and actions and meditation-provoking sections futher calling into question what ultimately comprises history.
This second aspect is what makes the book more than just your average historical thriller. Findley has a fine manner of putting events into a poetic, philosophical cast. - But the book meanders a bit much, and somehow lacks a certain panache and poetic/philosophical heft that detracts from its effectiveness- Perhaps this is inevitable in a book that weaves in and out of so many different intrigues, betrayals and deceptions while at the same time employing a prose style that is downright contemplative at times. In other words, the two levels don't quite seem to mesh as they should.
Aside from a little muddlednesss, however, this is a very fine piece of literature. It will having you turning the pages in excited bewilderment while at the same time pondering the questions it provokes about mankind and history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bookishgal25 on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Interesting that The Wars deals with the First World War and one man's personal transformation both before the war and during it. Famous Last Words, in a sense, picks up where the other novel left off. While the author's fictional protagonist/antagonist Mauberly is the inadvertent co-narrator of the story, the novel really focuses on varying characters and motives both during and after the Second World War.
The most intriguing part of this novel is the discovery of Mauberly's writings on the walls of a European hotel room and the impending decisions to be made about its historical importance. American soldiers have to decide whether to preserve the historical narrative written by a questionable character or destroy all memory--artistic or otherwise--of a gruesome war.
One gets the sense that Findley is making a post-modern comment on the myth of truth-telling and the conflict between art and politics. But also, the irony of Findlay as storyteller commenting on the subjectivity of storytelling is not lost.
All the Findlay elements are here in this novel: intrigue, mystery, psycho-analysis, and moral ambiguity. It does not have the power or punch of The Wars, but it is a confusingly fascinating read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely fantastic text with a bewitching story. One of the best books I have ever read, which incidentally makes sense of historical anomolies that otherwise might not gel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "orchid_54" on June 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Findley's "Famous Last Words" is an excellent novel, although sometimes wordy. In reading other works by Findley I found many similarities in the plot. Findley truly mixes fact and fiction in a believable fashion. This book was set well before my time, but I found Findley's use of fiction was in all the right places. The main plot of the secret underbelly of a fascist conspiracy to take over Europe transpiring before, during, and after WWII that featured a writer named Maulberely was interesting but confusing. Famous Last Words is unique, and exciting, providing the realization that not everything is as it seems...
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