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Wittgenstein's Mistress Paperback – March 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Addresses formidable philosophic questions with tremendous wit . . . remarkable . . . a novel that can be parsed like a sentence; it is that well made." --New York Times Book Review
"I can't think of the last time I held my breath when I read a book, waiting for the author to make one slip. Markson is as precise and dazzling as Joyce. His wit and awesome power of observation make this fictional world utterly convincing. I couldn't put this book down. I can't forget it. While Markson himself would deplore the use of a cliche, all I can say is that this book is original, beautiful, and an absolute masterpiece. Anyone who reads it can't think about the world the same way." --Ann Beattie
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Top Customer Reviews
The narrator forms this jumble of information into innumerable weirdly wonderful, laugh-out-loud syntheses. For example, a story that Rembrandt's students painted on his studio's floor images of gold coins, which Rembrandt would stoop to pick up no matter how often the trick was repeated, leads to the recollection that Rembrandt eventually had to declare financial bankruptcy. The narrator then combines these two anecdotes with the fact that Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam as a contemporary of the philosopher Spinoza to produce an imagined conversation between the two famous men in a corner shop. " `Oh, hi, Rembrandt. How's the bankruptcy?' `Fine, Spinoza. How's the excommunication?' "
Sprinkled among these fractured observations are obscure hints as to how and why the narrator has reached the point of what can only be madness.Read more ›
While I didn't find this book difficult, as others wrote, I think there's a dichotomy within it that contributes to that response.
I think this:
Markson wrote one book, a "philosophical novel," if there were such a genre--the novel demonstrates, rather than describes, a philosophy--and in so doing, he utilized more information than just the plot, the style, and the philosophy itself; this information becomes a sort of second book.
And I think the latter, the information that the narrator repeatedly discuses, are the "difficult" or perhaps simply "different" elements than the essence of the novel itself.
A woman is alone. She tells us, in the first sentence, she is alone on the earth ("At the beginning I left notes.") For me, there was a driving force to the plot - is this woman really alone, and to what extent? Is she alone in her house, holed up from trauma, or alone in her mind, "mad," as she phrases it - though she claims she has had periods of madness, not that she *is* mad. I found this plot elemnt a mystery, and I was driven, as such, to find out the ending or "truth."
The other element of the book is the substance itself, what she writes--thinks about--and the way she writes it. This, I think, is where a reader can become tired (I saw reviews say it should have been shorter, though this is quite a short book) or wander from the material.
The narrator talks a lot about ancient Greece, mythology, classical music, and limited-in-scope literature and art.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most awful books I've ever read. The narrator is a delusional egomaniac and the writing is unspeakably pretentious. Read morePublished 3 months ago by ConnoW
My rating is a reflection of my literary deficiencies and not of this book's quality. It was simply too abstruse -- well over my head.Published 5 months ago by dyrdee
Awesomely amazing book! I feel I am typing as Kate! I am dragging a stick across the sand! Yes. Me.Published 8 months ago by Patrick Redmond
YES with a capital EMPHATICALLY. I was hypnotized as I read the meandering thoughts of Wittgenstein's Mistress. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Arman
This book is emotionally devastating and intellectually challenging. Markson is known for writing in a disjointed, spare, postmodern style -- all his books are collections of facts... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Erika D. Price
This book has won very high praise but it's stream-of-conscienceness and very difficult to read.
I gave up after 12 pages or so. Read more
Be patient. By the halfway mark you'll have a better sense of what's at play. It's well worth it for sure.Published 20 months ago by Thomas O'Keefe