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The Unexpected Man: A Play Paperback – December 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"Enthralling . . . A stimulating, amusing, perceptive play." --The Daily Telegraph

"A consummately elegant translation by Christopher Hampton." --The Independent on Sunday

"Crisply translated . . . Delicate, witty, neatly constructed and peppered with irony. It captures the slippery, fleeting nature of the possibilities that surround us." --Financial Times

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st Published 1998 edition (December 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571196047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571196043
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,945,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon on a run of The Unexpected Man while in London, but it is sometimes the stories you stumble upon being the greatest. After the play I was so mesmerized by Reza's story I purchased the book right away. The magic and feeling Reza evokes through the man and the woman on the train is amazing, since the two hardly speak throughout the story. For anyone who has ever had a favorite author, the reality of what one would and would not say upon meeting him or her is perfectly captured in The Unexpceted Man. The woman's life is also revealed beutifully. Yet another wonderful play and story from Reza that captures the contradictions one feels in society and throughout life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Sharing a compartment on a train from Paris to Frankfurt, novelist Paul Parsky and a woman named Martha each occupy their own worlds. Though she recognizes him immediately as a writer whose works she "loves," and though she has his most recent novel, The Unexpected Man, in her purse, she does not speak to him and is too embarrassed to take out his book. Each character speaks his thoughts aloud, the separate monologues constituting the "action" of the play. Parsky is bitter about life and thinks of himself as something of a personal and professional failure, preoccupied by minor health problems, the disconnects between himself and his children, and the remarks made about his books by critics and friends. Martha reminisces about her own life and how Parsky's novels parallel her real life experience and that of her friends, especially Serge, a dear friend who died at seventy-six.

While Parsky is mulling over comments on his work and thinking that his observations have "no value in the practice of literature," Martha is silently conversing with him, telling him that "you personally invent protective misunderstandings, because you're haunted by the fear of being understood." While he wonders if there is "anyone in the whole world who might know how to read [The Unexpected Man]," Martha is revealing her superior understanding of both him and his book, which she finally takes from her purse to read. When, at the end of the "play," an awkward conversation finally begins, Parsky, not admitting his identity, tries to persuade Martha that the author of the book is irritating, selfish, and unable "to turn a single moment into an eternity.
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