- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Overlook Books (Jan. 10 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1585679208
- ISBN-13: 978-1585679201
- Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 2.1 x 19.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,906,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Voyage of the Short Serpent Hardcover – Jan 10 2008
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
A first-time novelist at 76, du Boucheron caused a literary sensation in France with this tale of a bishop's attempted reclamation of a medieval Scandinavian colony in Iceland. As the novel opens, Einar Sokkason, cardinal of Nidaros, learns that the Christian colony of New Thule has turned pagan. He dispatches Inquisitor Ordinary Bishop Insulomontanus to exorcise the colony with the aid of the stake, the wheel, the head vise, drawing and quartering, the slow hanging, and suspension from the feet or carnal parts. The bishop sets off peaceably in the company of the captain and crew of the Short Serpent, but as the Northern Sea freezes over, frostbite necessitates a few impromptu amputations. This turns out to be a prelude for what will come as the Serpent finally wends its way up the coast of the fjord, and the bishop is greeted by the curious colony of cannibals. Despite a competent translation, the cardinal and bishop's grave dictums are stilted, and the blood and gore titillate less than they bore. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"'A novel of staggering originality... I'll go out on a literary limb and bet you have never read anything quite like The Voyage of the Short Serpent' - Robert Littell 'What erudition, what humour, and above all, what ferocity!... It's a delirious parable, astonishing, licentious, and jubilant' Figaro 'A voyage of ignominy, vice, and deprivation. The sacrificial fury that's nourished in the world of Bernard du Boucheron's novel of impeccable prose has redefined literary mores' Le Point" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product description
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It's more of a conceit than a full-fledged work. Hester Velmans' translation may capture the starched, satirical, and savage qualities of the original French, but the effort feels fussy and overly stylized in English. So does the effort to which the author strains to capture the tone of a chronicle or correspondence, given the friction of the attempt to counter the wiles of the Inuit, here titled "publicans," who lure the dwindling Norse into their seal-hunting, sexually suspect and sinful mores.
A few good lines show the potential. Early on, frostbite claims victims on the bishop's ship. Having been forbidden to eat their own rotting flesh to survive, one shipmate rebels. "One of them replied that the season was not Lent, and proceeded to devour his own toes." I admit I liked some of the dour and deadpan recitals of increasing woe, as the rescue attempt to scare and shame the Norse back to Christian fidelity, compared to the odd temptations of dissolute abandon among the natives, lure the Catholic contingent into their compromises, to survive in New Thule increasingly hostile threats.
This novel is about the journey of a Catholic bishop to the Norse colony. He is ordered there when rumors abound that the colony is succumbing to paganism and sodomy and incest - murder, fornication, hanging to get high, and every other sordid act of debauchery. The novel pairs vivid descriptions of starvation and privation and harrowing journeys over an ice-gripped landscape with equally vivid descriptions of the horrors of human culture gone awry - fornication, mutilation, murder, and excrement (hastily devoured by the desperate) - mostly told by the bishop himself, whose point of view is, at times, verging on the delusional.
I have heard that this book was made much of in France, for the particular reason that the author was 76 when he wrote this - his first novel - having worked most of his life in a decidedly un-literary administrative job. I am fully prepared to give it props on that account, since I seem to have spent my own youth uselessly and will no doubt continue to do so. I fully expect that I will not have accomplished anything of any note by 70, so this guy gives me a little bit of hope.