Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Soldier of the Great War Paperback – May 1, 1992
|New from||Used from|
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Energetic prose, poetic images of great intensity and an antic imagination combine in this gripping moral fable narrated by a septuagenarian irrevocably altered by WW I. This BOMC main selection was on PW 's hardcover bestseller list for eight weeks.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A rousing tale ... riotous energy and sustainedbrilliance ... Helprin lights his own way, in his ownsingular direction." -- --Time
"Extraordinary... a vast, ambitious, spiritually lusty, all-guzzling, all-encompassing novel" -- --The New York Times Book Review
"Intense, memorable ... magnificent ... a massive, soaring novel of ideas and ordeals." -- --Entertainment weekly
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Alessandro proceeds to walk with great vigor, not in line with what you would expect from a man his age. Over the course of their movements, Alessandro begins to tell the story of his early years and especially the hardships he underwent during the time of the "Great War".
He was involved in many battles and situations, and very often was reported to have been killed. During the time that he's serving, his mother passes away, and then his father, and of all his close friends he's the only survivor. We follow as he puts his all into whatever he does, we witness the courage and the drive, as he does things that are considered extremely brave, but he feels it's what he's supposed to be doing.
We get a glimpse into the suffering that the Great War brought unto the soldiers, the families, and the people whose territory was overrun by soldiers. We see the senseless killings of each army's own soldiers for desertion, when they aren't really guilty of it, but because of the war, examples have to be made.
Along the way, the dialogue sometimes seems to be out of something from Abbot and Costello, Who's on First skit, as Alessandro is witty and sometimes has no patience for people who don't catch on. This is refreshing in the beginning, but you feel like jumping over much of those parts as the book proceeds.
In the end, the book is as much a depiction of the character's philosophy, which is honed by both his upbringing, as well as the ordeals he is exposed to, both before and after the war. It's both uplifting and sad at the same time and you feel you'll miss reading of Alessandro because of determination and his awareness that money is secondary to what's more important in life.
This is not like any other war novel I have read, and I've read a number of them. Although you are taken inside the reality of war--in the muddy trenches, in the grasp of grenades, marching with battalions, and tramping through the punishing terrain and climactic extremes, the focus isn't limited to the strategies/hierarchies/bureaucracies of war games, although they are present and compelling. This is a story of an Italian aesthetic, Alessandro Giuliani, who is devoted to life, humanity, and art, and whose love for one woman is inexhaustible. He is as passionate about the song of a bird, the luminosity of a star, the tufts of clouds, and the play of light and color on a painting, as he is of surviving the war.
The jacket art on my edition is a partial view of La Tempesta, by Giorgione, a Renaissance painting that plays a pivotal role in the story. The eloquence of Helprin's tribute to this work of art, through Alessandro's sensitivity and regard to its poignancy, left me breathless. I have never been so exquisitely moved by a painting through a novel, and I vow to visit the Accademia in Venice someday and stand in front of its powerful beauty.
This is a novel to keep handy on a shelf once you have finished reading it, just to have access to its potent passages. You can open to any page and find poetry in prose. It elevates my thoughts to embody Alessandro and his five senses. Here is an example of the book's uncommon beauty that shines everywhere on these pages:
"It seemed unbelievable that the sky, twisting and boiling like burning phosphorous, was silent, for its light and thunder suggested thunder, explosions, and the sound of the sea. The stars were busy and intent, as if before the moon came up they had to unburden themselves of all they had seen during the daylight hours, when they could not speak. Now they ran riot, and their light made the snowfields breathlessly dim."
This is one of the most exalting contemporary novels I have ever read. It demands patience, as it is not only hefty, but dense as well, with long chapters and copious forays into detailed and metaphorical description. This is a book for an ardent reader who desires a sensory experience with exuberant narrative scope. After finishing it, I felt still and quiet, as if in repose, and then I wept, reflected, and avidly thanked the literature gods for sending this to me. I like to think I am an improved person for having read this exceptionally cultivated novel of the human condition.