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Mawrdew Czgowchwz (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – February 1, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Debuting in 1971, McCourt's comedic novel takes on the world of opera through title character Mawrdew Czgowchwz (pronounced "Mardu Gorgeous"), who finds herself both the darling of fans and the bane of other divas, who are less than welcoming and maternal to the new star. There are few opera parodies out there, so this should appeal to fans.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

James McCourt is the author of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Time Remaining, Delancey s Way, Now Voyagers: The Night Sea Journey and Queer Street. He has contributed to the Yale Review, The New Yorker, and the Paris Review. He lives in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Wayne Koestenbaum is an American poet and cultural critic. He received a BA from Harvard University, an MA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from Princeton University. He lives in New York City, where he is Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His books include "Humiliation" and "My 1980s and Other Essays".
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 221 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; 1st Printing February 2002 edition (February 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940322978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940322974
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for everyone. The prose style is dense, there are far too many characters, and the novel requires at least a passing knowledge of opera. However, the cattyness of the observations, the rhythmns of the sentences and their unexpected twists and turns, make for delightful reading.
A sample of the prose is the best introduction.
"While His Scarlet Eminence and Msgr. Finneagle sat playing their esoteric version of Monopoly, the custom-crafted board for which could be seen to represent the several circles of Dante's Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, as well as the ground plan for the entire Vatican, both the above-ground palaces' apartments, closets, and chapels, and those labyrinthine catacomb reaches where Darkest Rumor is said on good authority to repose in thrilling reptile fashion. His Scarlet Eminence snickered in pixyish glee, having caught his opponent in the square of the seventh circle of hell (with four hotels). Monsignor trembled (livid), bankrupt of plenary indulgence."
Should you find this amusing and well-written, you'll love this book. If not, you'd best pass.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The comparisons that have made between MAWRDEW CZGOWCHWZ and the novels of Ronald Firbank are just... perhaps too just. Part of the charm of Firbank's novels is their utter singularity; they seem so unusual that they captivate by their aura of rarity. In MAWRDEW, McCourt transplants the heady atmosphere of Firbank's faraway kingdoms and cities to the "Gotham" of the postwar era, but the effect seems a little derivative. Moreover, while McCourt attains the kinds of virtuoso effects of Firbank's prose you keep getting the feeling you're expected to admire the effort rather than be moved by it. There's nothing like the deeply-felt sense of anguish that makes the best of Firbank's novels (such as THE FLOWER BENEATH THE FOOT) really transcend their glibness. Almost inevitably, the foreword for this edition was written by Wayne Koestenbaum: the book seems to have been written exactly with him in mind as its audience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read Mawrdew Czgowchwz the year it came out. I was working with an organization presenting an award for fiction, so we had quite a few books come in to the office. I read it during spare moments in the office, the only one of the novels I read.

I have re-read it several times since then, most recently in the Kindle edition. Every time, it seems to have gotten better; maybe I've just grown to be able to appreciate it more, from the sly edges to the characterization, to evocations of a long lost New York City (before my time there), to a style you can take to the Firbank.

It still makes me laugh, and I still find new things to laugh about. Definitely one of the funniest books I've ever read! By the way, this is the only book that I've felt moved to write a review for on Amazon, but I really want to spread the word about the world's first and greatest oltrano, Mawrdew Czgowchwz.
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Format: Paperback
After seeing blurbs on Mawrdew Czgowchwz in two magazines and an on-line newsletter, I said "I have to read this book!" Now I have read it and I didn't. The writing is gorgeous, but too much so. Brobdingnagian aggregations of rare multisyllabic verbiage traipse, saunter, stroll, galumph across the page-sometimes arm-in-arm with an idiomatic epigram or eponym-implying to the ophthalmic interlocutor notions of sylvatic artistry, ecstatic glamour and libidinous merriment. Do you know what I mean, toots?
McCourt's theme is the transcendent power of art. The problem I have with the book is McCourt makes you work too hard. His style and vocabulary get in the way of his message. Achieving transcendence in a spiritual sense takes discipline and stamina. But to be whisked away in the concert hall, all you have to do is listen.
Mawrdew Czgowchcz has engaging characters (with fabulous names) a terrific plot, wicked satire and many fun incidents all of which you will enjoy, if you can pry them out McCourt's thickly gilded sentences. Yes, it is very much like Firbank, but Firbank, for his baroque obtuseness, is still swift and immediate on the page.
I wanted to be engulfed and swept away by Mawrdew, instead I just bobbed along the surface, admiring but not fully appreciating. A little less gorgeousness would serve Mawrdew Czgowchcz much better.
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Format: Paperback
It's lovely to have this brilliant novel back in print, easily the best novel on the opera milieu ever published. But it's the maximalist prose that is the true star here--half Firbank, half Joyce, as Wayne Koestenbaum points out in his excellent introduction. I envy anyone reading this for the first time.
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