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Pilgrim [Paperback]

Timothy Findley
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 17 2000
Ageless. Sexless. Deathless. Timeless. Pilgrim is a man who cannot die, an astounding character in a novel of the cataclysmic contest between creation and destruction. Pilgrim is Timothy Findley’s latest masterwork, a finalist for the Giller Prize, and a national bestseller that has smashed the author’s own impressive sales records. Recently published in the US, Pilgrim is gathering rave reviews, and will be released in the UK this spring.

It is 1912 and Pilgrim has been admitted to the BurghÖlzli Psychiatric Clinic in ZÜrich, Switzerland, having failed—once again—to commit suicide. Over the next two years, it is up to Carl Jung, self-professed mystical scientist of the mind, to help Pilgrim unlock his unconsciousness, etched as it is with myriad sufferings and hopes of history. Is Pilgrim mad, or is he condemned to live forever, witness to the terrible tragedy and beauty of the human condition?

Both intimate and expansive in its scope, with an absorbing parade of characters—mythic, fictional and historical—Pilgrim is a fiercely original and powerful story from one of our most distinguished artists.

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"Pilgrim is an entertaining book, as visual as the artists depicted in it." -- -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"An extraordinary gifted storyteller." -- -- Publishers Weekly

"Beautiful writing and extraordinary invention." -- -- Chicago Tribune

"Findley is a thinking person's storyteller." -- -- Houston Chronicle

"Findley spins a fine tale...[his] powers of description are truly extraordinary. Pilgrim is an impressive creation." -- -- The Wall Street Journal

"Impressive." -- -- Denver Rocky Mountain News

"It's rare to find an author in which the moralist and the entertainer cohabit so naturally." -- -- New York Times Book Review

"Provocative." -- -- Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Soaring...[Pilgrim is] a gorgeously complex novel of ideas and a rousing good read." -- -- Ruminator Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Timothy Findley was one of Canada’s most compelling and best loved writers, from the publication of his first novel in 1967 until his death in June 2002. His acclaimed novels include Spadework, Pilgrim, The Piano Man’s Daughter, Headhunter, Not Wanted on the Voyage, Famous Last Words and The Wars. Findley was a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award: The Wars won the 1977 award for fiction; Elizabeth Rex, a play, won the 2000 award for drama. The recipient of many accolades for his fiction, non-fiction and drama, including the Chalmers Award and the Edgar Award, Findley was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

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First Sentence
Inside the front doors of the Burgholzli Psychiatric Clinic in Zurich, a nursed named Dora Henkel and an orderly whose name was Kessler were waiting to greet a new patient and his companion. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pilgrim: A Timeless Character Dec 24 2001
Timothy Findley has written another great work of art. Pilgrim, the central character, is a tragic figure not because he gave his life for a great cause; but he is tragic because he cannot seem to die (or is he just a bit schizo?..hmmm). The novel focuses on themes of trust, loss and redemption. In the end, though, I began trusting more of the bit characters (ie. Jung's wife) and empathizing with her loss more than the central figures. One note of dissappointment. The book tends to lose a little steam at the end. We simply just wish Pilgrim could successfully end himself and thus the novel. Does he succeed? We are still uncertain.
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3.0 out of 5 stars a better idea than the reality June 6 2001
I found the story to be a better idea than reality. For someone so mysterious, Findley writes in an extraordinarily dry, organized, linear way. I could just imagine him consulting his 10 page outline, it never once enters into the mysterious, way too rational, really. It should have been called Jung, not Pilgrim, because it was really a story about Jung and for that it was good, very interesting, but Pilgrim we never realy get to know. The majority of the book is about Jung with occasional spatterings of Pilgrim's POV. Pilgrim's POV seemed quite sparse, I don't think the author spent enough time on it. Also, the connection between Emma and Pilgrim should have been explored more for my taste, but really, he was trying to show too many different POVs in one book, that is too hard to do I think. Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion did that well but he didnt have an immortal character who had lived since the beginning of time. I feel a little short-changed, after all the time I invested reading this 500+ page novel, I wish I could have known more of Pilgrim a character I know I would've adored if I could've known him better. He' strying to do too much, showing Pilgrim's relation with Davinci, Wilde, these things take time to develop he just gives it 5 pages, not enough time, it seems fake, unless we are to believe he really is crazy and so none of these things happened. That would be the only reason to leave it so sparsely told. Good story if he would complete it, fill it out, it fills like an outline, a skeleton.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritually enlivening Feb. 14 2001
By A Customer
This work is entirely different from anything I've ever read. I appreciated the brooding tone of the story and the undercurrent of foreshadowing leading up to its climax. The ending was a little unorthodox and left me with a need for closure, however, I believe Findley does this purposefully as a way to compliment the mysterious and spiritual undertones of the plot. A comfortable, soothing read. Felt as if I were in a reverie, I could almost set it to music.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating March 9 2001
By A Customer
Beautifully written and richly imagined, this is a fascinating novel that challenges historical reality and presents psychology and philosophy in a unique way. Interesting portrait of Jung and a cast of wonderfully realized characters. A thoughtful and thought provoking journey through time and the human psyche.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic and Problematic April 17 2001
Pilgrim begins quite enigmatically and I began it with a lot of hope for one very special book. Unfortunately, the book's enigmatic qualities soon fizzle as the plot veers off course only to finish with many dangling threads. I do not mind dangling threads if the plot supports and calls for them, but Pilgrim seemed to need a little more. We simply don't know what Findley is trying to tell us.
Findley's writing, as always, is truly first rate and the book is enjoyable to read for this reason alone. While I found it difficult to identify with the character of Pilgrim (this could have been deliberate on Findley's part, I know, given the book's nature), I did enjoy the "intimate" look at Carl Jung and his long-suffering and loyal wife, Emma. How true this account of the Jung's is is not really important. This is fiction, not fact. What is important is that Findley gives us an engrossing portrait of a marriage that could stand a little work, especially on the part of Jung.
Pilgrim is a good book and one that I don't think anyone will regret reading. It is definitely not Findley's best and contains some plot holes that I think would have been better had they been filled.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a great surprise Jan. 25 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I Wasn't sure the time bending premise was for me, but I loved it in the end. It was very compelling
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Diversion June 30 2004
I always plan - carefully - which books I intend to purchase. Usually, this process takes me through dozens of reviews (which I often disregard) and, where applicable, excerpts. Rarely have I ever found myself so wholly in want of a book as I was when I first discovered Pilgrim. Penned by one of my favourite authors, with whom I have found very little fault, I began reading with heightened expectations.
Findley combines the past with an interpretation of Jungian psychology, exploring elements like the naturality of polygamy and the power and extent of the theory of a collective unconscious. For the first 90% of the story, everything works together wonderfully; events are tied together or created with a level of believability that can, at times, astound the reader.
Unfortunately, much of the story proves to be a cop-out. I won't spoil the ending here, but will say that it comes off as lazy.
Overall, it's a good read ... if you don't mind the disappointment that comes after it ends.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not the best Timothy Findley I have read
This is not the best Timothy Findley I have read. The most interesting part of the story is the background. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rev.
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite frankly, this book stole a portion of my life.
The premise, while interesting, is not enough to save this disjointed mass of vignettes. If it was an "alternate universe" fictional piece I might have been more forgiving but to... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2007 by A. Seliotis
2.0 out of 5 stars On the whole, a dissapointment
To begin with, a very nice premise. But Findley just doesn't deliver. It's not that I need every question answered after all life's not like that, no reason literature should be. Read more
Published on March 28 2002 by Henry Charles
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to potential
Pilgrim is the story of a man who can not die. After his latest suicide attempt, Pilgrim is brought to a sanatorium in Switzerland by his friend Sibyl Quatermaine, and comes under... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2001 by Megami
4.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually nimble
I found Pilgrim to be a fascinating read. Part history, part psychology, part mystery, Pilgrim leads the reader on a circuitous journey. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2001 by Travel Addict
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Confused for My Taste
The book has its' interesting moments. A man who cannot die should be interesting. However, for us left brain people, the were just too many loose ends and unresolved issues. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2001 by Skeeter
2.0 out of 5 stars Painful and Pompous
I did not enjoy this book. It was painfully disjointed and not in a way that is simply hard to follow for those not familiar with challanging fiction, but instead, in a way that... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Lauren Scaravelli
1.0 out of 5 stars airport book
Let me vote with the slant against Pilgrim. The beautiful cover and the promise of reading about Carl Jung and Leonardo da Vinci beckoned me to my airport purchase (upscale... Read more
Published on March 17 2001 by Amazon Customer
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