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The Voyage of the Short Serpent Hardcover – Jan 10 2008


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Product Details

  • 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: #3,154,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

Review

"'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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa6b28180) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa69719c0) out of 5 stars So many levels of enjoyment Feb. 20 2008
By Jonathan Eells - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The obvious level at which one engages this book - the wry account of a petty church potentate's predations (multiple redundancies there, I know) - is quite good enough. But then, keep in mind you're reading a Frenchman's take on GERMANS and other Europeans, and on the Catholic Church, and it all gets WAY MORE FUNNY. I say this without reservation, and I am German m'self. A marvelous, short, skewering read that is well worth the time.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7cfeb30) out of 5 stars Vicious and Degraded April 19 2008
By Erica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is about the lost colony of Norseman in Greenland. It is apparently one of the mysteries of history - what happened to these people who existed for 500 years on the coast of Greenland and one day, sometime near 1500 AD, disappeared? Some say it was the cooling climate, some say they were butchered by visiting Europeans or the Inuit population, some say they left, some say they starved. Most say their somewhat rigid adherence to their culture, that of farming and strict religion, caused their demise.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa69985c4) out of 5 stars Short but sweet? Feb. 6 2011
By Kurt Switzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like many stories of medieval Greenland, this was a pretty depressing read. It is told mostly from the viewpoint of the priest, with a few chapters from the captains side. In general the delivery was to the point and anticlimactic, so if not paying close attention it was easy to miss important story points. The hardship in reaching Greenland, and parts of the captains tale while hunting reminded my of the desolation in Dan Simmon's "The Terror". I enjoyed the translation, the dialog and descriptions having a decided old world feel. Too many historical fictions feel contemporary and detract from the story.
HASH(0xa77b4438) out of 5 stars Intelligent, Funny, and Disturbing June 6 2013
By C. H. Fleck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a dark, dark comedy. Or maybe it's a really funny tragedy. At any rate, it is clear that the author is familiar with medieval Scandinavian literature, because the "Voyage" is reminiscent of the extant literature of the period: blood soaked, sardonic, morally ambiguous. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this book is.
HASH(0xa698c78c) out of 5 stars hilarious July 6 2012
By scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is possibly one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is about a man who at the request of his Bishop sets out on a sea voyage to a pagan land. He is religious only in word but never in deed. Nobody in the book is truly a good christian. The ending is unexpected.

If you are looking for a book that is easy to read and funny as hell, then this is a must read.

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