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All Souls Paperback – November, 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A dazzling example of the Oxford novel. -- Michael Kerrigan, Times Literary Supplement

Probably the wittiest novel set in British academia since David Lodge wrote Changing Places. -- Corinna Honan, Daily Mail

The most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature. -- Boston Sunday Globe

The most talented Spanish author alive. -- Il Messagero

[A]lmost as intricate as The Sacred Fount or Pale Fire... read it. -- Irving Malin, The Hollins Critic, April 2001

[C]rackles with deliciously sly observations of Oxford mores. -- James Woodall, The Independent

About the Author

Javier Marías is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.

Margaret Jull Costa is an award-winning translator of Portuguese and Spanish literature. She lives in the United Kingdom.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (November 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780811214537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811214537
  • ASIN: 0811214532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,114,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A novel which appears to be about nothing but suggests everything. It is set in one of the two most famous English Universities, and very little of moment occurs in its pages - there is no murder, no scandals, no international spies but en passant the novel alludes to all of these things. It concerns itself with the minutia of daily living as seen through the eyes of the single Spanish lecturer. The eccentricities, gentleness, and foibles of this section of English life are a central concern with the realisation that far from being an ivory tower where inhabitants concern themselves with matters of a higher order, of philosophy, of God, and existence, they spend their time as best friend Dr Cromer-Blake expostulates, thinking about men and women - everything one does, everything one thinks, everything else that one thinks and plots about is a medium through which to think about them. Even wars are fought in order to be able to start thinking again, to renew our unending thinking about our men and women, about those who were or could be ours, about those we know already and those we will never know, about those who were young and those who will be young , about those who shared our beds and those who never will (p64). In the end, there is a sadness when the novel closes, a sweet sorrow and an acknowledgement of connection between his pushing his newborn son along in a pram and Marriott dragging his one legged dog along, or the Gypsy flowerseller dragging her wares along. It is a love story, but expresses itself in a love of humanity which happens to be that situated in Oxford, England. A love story that echoes Donne's lines that no man is island entire unto himself even though he may often feel he is!
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Format: Paperback
Only read this book if you love literature.
Marias is the type of gifted writer who makes telling compelling stories 'look easy,' and thus inspires us to wish that we had written down our own adventures, perceptions, and loves. Although it is fiction, it caused quite an uproar at Oxford/Cambridge, because the professors there read themselves into the book's characters.
All Souls, from the opening pages to the end, is an evocative, inventive, textured, and fabulous novel.
Five stars, all the way.
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Format: Paperback
I came to ALL SOULS having read Marias' "Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me" a month ago and being very impressed with it. My lukewarm assessment of ALL SOULS is no doubt in part a product of frustrated high expectations; ALL SOULS (published in 1989) is a comparatively pale and shallow fore-runner of "Tomorrow" (which was published in 1994).

In ALL SOULS, the un-named first-person narrator recounts what he wants to share with the reader about his two years as a visiting don at Oxford in Spanish literature. (The story is told more than two years after his tenure at Oxford, when he is back in Madrid and recently married, to Luisa, and more recently a father.) The back cover blurbs portray ALL SOULS as an "Oxford novel", marked by "wit and humour." While the novel may well realistically portray a young don's life at Oxford, it is not so much a send-up of Oxford or a particularly funny novel (although the first few pages of a chapter on dinner at "high tables" are quite funny) as it is a novel about purported relationships that end up being shallow and virtually inconsequential, and as such could be set in virtually any contemporary cosmopolitan spot. The narrator goes through the motions and conventions of friendship but through it all he remains emotionally and psychologically withdrawn and very self-absorbed. Here, the narrator's principal friends are two other Oxford dons and Clare Bayes, with whom the narrator has an adulterous affair of convenience for most of his two years in Oxford. The other principal character in the novel is a long-dead, actual historical figure from English letters, John Gawsworth.
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