Jacques the Fatalist and His Master Paperback – May 6 1986
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About the Author
Denis Diderot was born at Langres in eastern France in 1713. After graduating in Paris in 1732, he was nominally a law student for ten years, but was actually leading a precarious bohemian but studious existence. In the early 1740s he met three contemporaries who were of great significance to him and to the age: a'Alembert, Condillac and Rousseau, who assisted Diderot in the compilation of the Encyclopedie, which he worked on until its completion in 1773. Interested in the mind-body dichotomy, his work was a bold mixture of science and philosophy. He died in 1784. Translated by Michael Henry with an introduction and notes by Martin Hall
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Top Customer Reviews
There is really no plot as such. Jacques, a man who seems to believe everything that happens is already written "up on high", but who nonetheless keeps making decisions for himself, is riding through France with his unnamed master, a man who is skeptic of Jacques's determinism but who remains rather passive throughout the book. Fate and the creator-author will put repeatedly to test Jacques's theory, through a series of more or less fortunate accidents and situations, as well as by way of numerous asides in the form of subplots or stories.
The novel is totally disjointed and these asides and subplots blurb all over the place, always interrupted themselves by other happenings. The most interesting of them is the story of Madame de Pommeroy and her bitter but ultimately ineffectual revenge on her ex-lover.
Diderot confesses to having taken much from Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" and Cervantes's "Don Quixote". This last novel's influence seems obvious at two levels: Cervantes also talks to the reader, especially in Part Two, and also reflects abundantly on the creative process.Read more ›
Surely many writers and artists from this era (like Goya) depicted the nobles as effete and incapable of carrying out the governance of the most basic requirements of existence, but here, they also appear (in the image of the 'master') as so withdrawn from the world as to be blind. If you take away all the stories that are told, the only thing that's left of a plot here is the master having his horse stolen right from under his nose while Jacques was gone and then Jacques finding it for him at the end in a beautiful, mock sort of deus ex machina.
Most recent customer reviews
Similar to Voltaire's "Candide", this book examines the exploits of the Spinozan Jacques, and his adventures in a world he considers predetermined. Read morePublished on July 10 2001
Anyone who thrilled at Calvino's 'If on a winter's night a traveller...', but despaired at ever finding another book like it (uniqueness DOES have its price), need fear no longer. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2000 by darragh o'donoghue
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