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Moravagine (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2004


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Moravagine (New York Review Books Classics) + The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) + The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Rip-roaring fiction and imaginative adventuring on all planes of experience."
Times Literary Supplement

"Moravagine seeks damnation and extinction with a glee unequaled in literature. The only parallels that come to mind are Céline and Beckett."
— Sven Birkerts, New Boston Review

"An unbridled picaresque fantasy…full of tenderness, horror, and ink-black jokes of a visual intensity that recall Goya."
Financial Times

"Savage, funny, wildly inventive."
— John Lehmann, Sunday Telegraph

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Bursey on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
As one commentator has said, this disturbing book, with its two anarchist lead characters, is Cendrars' view of the artistic process, viewed from the destructive perspective; to recall Michael Bakunin (1814-76), "The passion for destruction is also a constructive passion," a famous utterance which is like a watermark behind everything which occurs in _Moravagine_.
There is no fun or point in giving away the picaresque plot of this extraordinary work. I have no idea how this reads in the original french, but the english translation by Alan Brown (Penguin) is clear and compelling. Apart from the disease imagery, present from the first to the last, there are many luxuriant images and, on the whole, an intensity which retains power even when people today have read or seen so much about terrorists and murderers. As the narrator and Moravagine make their way across continents, the pace flags, notably in the Blue Indians section, but Cendrars' vision, and the slow, inexorable unwinding of the narrator's previous self-confidence and enormous conceits become more interesting than Moravagine's own nature. Anticipating postmodernist writers, Cendrars includes a snapshot (a fake one, to be sure) of himself as a minor character whose path crosses the two killers.
A convert to Cendrars, having just finished _Moravagine_, would best follow it with the Dan Yack books (_Dan Yack_; _Confessions of Dan Yack_), and then the uneven but exhilirating tetralogy comprising _The Astonished Man_, _Planus_, _Lice_ and _Sky_. If one can forget Nina Rootes' interference with Cendrars' own presentation of his material, then these hard to obtain books (most out of print) are well worth reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Strang on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
It is obvious that this book is one of Cendrars most ambtious novels. It is so well written that each minor and major shock create a seamless flow within a paradox of uncontrolled energies on one level - yet controlled energies on other levels - coupled with an almost invisible hatred of the human for the entire human condition. To me, it is the most frightening book I have every read. ALso, it is in the realm of the greatest of classics. I cannot help but wonder where or not Blaise Cendrars was or had been an avid reader of Balzac (This is based upon some of his structuring of the story).
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By mostserene1 on December 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may be described as an exquisitely depraved travelogue of regions both geographic and psychological. Other reviewers have more than adequately laid out the storyline and in that regard I have nothing to add. I will simply admonish readers that this is not a book for the queasy, the timid, or those of a markedly nervous disposition. That said, if you took pleasure from Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray, J.K. Huysmans' A Rebours (Against Nature), or, stretching a bit, even the fantastical satire of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, then this decadent, entertaining romp may be just what the "doctor" ordered. But you have been warned: I accept no responsibility for psychotic breaks triggered by this gruesome literary morsel.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bailey Hicks on October 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This was the first book I read from Cendrars with little thought that he would have the humbling effect on me that he did. To say this book is great, is an understatement! After you've read it ,you too, will understand why! The amount of research that had to be applied to this book is an amazing feat in itself, let alone the whole storyline which is genius, complex,and poetic,... like all the great authors! Moravagine...A psychological thrilling novel that confronts bare human emotion with an honesty unmatched by few.. brings us closer into the mind of an author, whose awesome talent for expression, sent tremors down the spine of the literary world, showing us life's true nature...macabre and yet beautiful!
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on August 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Prose of the Trans-Siberian" poem remains my favorite piece of Cendrars writing but this novel is a close second. I passed my copy around and everyone that had a go at it praised the thrills it delivers. Cendrars is a character who seems to have known everyone and been everywhere during those wild experimental years at the beginning of the last century. He documented his many careers(he had a go at just about every art form) in four volumes of biography. Three of which I think are available. He also lost a hand in WW1 and wrote a very beautiful poem about it, such is the magnanimity of this soul who was such a restless originator of new forms it seems he could have single handedly brought about modernism all on his own. Of course his many friends (of which Picasso was one) did what they could too. As a poet his reputation is solid, as a novelist he is still gaining ground as his books begin to reappear after a long abscence. Moravagine is a book full of anarchic energy and though one of the main characters is a bit primitive that was after all one of the aspects of modernism. The wild beast of a main character is Cendrars monster or more specifically modern societies monster. There is also a monkey who is curiously human. The writing is manic at times but there are few lulls on this cross continental journey where the primitive and the civilized seem to walk hand in hand . If this was made into a picture it would be a road picture replete with half man half beast lead, civilized man narrator, and well clad monkey companion. Cendrars family album.
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Moravagine (New York Review Books Classics)
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