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Asterios Polyp Hardcover – Jul 7 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1St Edition edition (July 7 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307377326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307377326
  • Product Dimensions: 26.8 x 20.4 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #71,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Kirshenblatt on Dec 24 2010
Format: Hardcover
On the surface of this graphic novel, this is the story of a fifty year old academic and architect named Asterios Polyp: who lost his wife, his home, and his life's ambition. He goes to a small town where he really contemplates these things -- sometimes with the help of the highly intuitive Ursula Major and her family who take him in.

However, the plot of the story is only part of its incredibly symbolic nature. Asterios Polyp is a man that embodies what the German philosopher Nietzsche would call the 'Apollonian' -- an instinct or inclination towards balance, serenity, and symmetry in life. It is no accident that Mazzucchelli draws on architecture, and Greek epic and tragedy, and even a reference to ancient Chinese burial terracotta warriors. Through his obsession with order, Asterios Polyp seeks a symmetry that never really existed inside of him, or in his life. In fact, the only two times he ever comes close to this are when he creates his theoretical architecture -- the ultimate in Plato's World of Forms because nothing he ever designed was ever built in reality -- and when he is with his wife Hana who herself is more Dionysian -- more passionate, intuitive and creative if not less confident -- than he is.

The art in this graphic novel reflects this nature between the Apollonian and Dionysian: with the clear lines and angles of the Platonic Solids that make up Asterios Polyp's world, and the various shades, textures and colours of Hana's own reality. Sometimes these two worlds overlap and complement each other and sometimes make a reality that the reader can recognize, but more often than not they clash and end up looking like the exact opposite of each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Manning-Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 30 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book opens with a man watching, presumably, a pornographic movie, when his building is hit by lightning and catches fire. Such is how we meet Asterios Polyp, 50 year old architect. He grabs a few trinkets and as he rushes out the door we see he has a room full of videos, each one marked with a consecutive day of the week which appear to go on for years back. Through a series of flashbacks we follow Asterios' past and present as with the cash he takes a bus to however far it will get him, ending up in a hick town where he gets a job as a mechanic and rents a room in the house of his boss.

Comments: The book is a study in self. It is hard for me to review this book critically as I have never studied philosophy and that is the main theme running through this book. The first thing to enter my mind was existentialism and after googling it, I found it fit the situation perfectly in my mind but I also so the opposite happening as well, so another google brought up the term nihilism. The amazing thing about this graphic novel is that the illustrations follow suit in a gripping display a graphic brilliance to fit the atmosphere of the pages.

For characters, the book is sparse. Asterios himself is self-centered and egotistical. His Asian wife is his opposite: warm, tender and loving. Otherwise the book contains a handful of eccentric characters, who while also being wrapped in their own self manage to do so without the know-it-all, "I'm always right", attitude of Asterios. My favourite character was the garage owner's wife, Ursula Major a buxom, large, pipe smoking, luxurious blonde woman who follows all the Pagan religions and thinks she is part Indian because she was a Shaman in a past life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Young on Aug. 24 2009
Format: Hardcover
Guy alienates his wife, his marriage breaks up and he quits his job and gets lost for awhile. It is not a vastly original story, but the graphic sensibility and visual storytelling is quite complex and rewarding. I particularly liked the retelling of the myth of Orpheus in the subway system. The pacing and quiet sense of drama were perfect and carried the story along effortlessly as we work to unravel the mystery of how the world famous architect 'Sterio came to work as a car mechanic in small town nowhere. Really enjoyable and not even a let down, despite all of the media hype the book has received.
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By Ann Jun on Feb. 13 2011
Format: Hardcover
Through colours, shapes and different perspectives, you explore the life of Asterios Polyp as he learns what is beyond his carefully arranged narrow world.

Every page has meaning beyond just the words and pictures. Every image shows more than just the story, exploring ideas and always comparing something against the other. Straight lines vs. curves, past vs. present, twin vs. twin.

What is good design? How do you move beyond theoretical to a real construction? He also depicts the real little things of ordinary life as a couple, the small intimate, unimportant things nobody ever talks about.

This book is more than a story, it's an exploration of ideas and a model of how a graphic novel is more than just words with pictures. Here, you'll see things you could never do with just words or just pictures.
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Format: Hardcover
I put off buying this book for a while because I was put off by the drawing style and colorization. How superficial... The author's choice of colour and drawing suits Asterios Polyp's story perfectly! At first glance, Polyp is some superficial jerk, but of course, like everyone he is more complex and what we learn early on about is life misleads us. The use of bold lines and colours, and the original utilization of some basic drawing techniques, more notably, Mazzucchelli crafts a clever narrative that everyone is bound to enjoy. Well worth re-reading a few times to soak up the more subtle aspects of the drawn narrative.
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