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Titre : Uncle Rudolf
Éditeur : Fourth Estate
Date d'édition : 2002
Reliure : Hardcover
Etat du livre : Fine
Etat de la jaquette : Fine
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : 1st Edition.
First British (and true first) Edition. The eighth novel by the author of KITTY & VIRGIL, the story of a near senile man who finds himself speaking in the language he has not used since childhood. Fine/Fine. Signed by Bailey on the title page. N° de réf. du libraire 50202
The haunting new novel from Paul Bailey, whose work has been short-listed twice for the Booker prize.
At the age of 70, Andrew Peters suddenly finds himself speaking in the language he has not used since childhood, when he came to live with his doting Uncle Rudolf . Rudolf transformed Andrew's world. Looking back across the years, Andrew remembers the captivating man who rescued him in 1937 from a likely death in fascist Romania. A sublimely gifted lyric tenor, Rudolf?s talent had exiled him from his native land, leading him to Paris, Vienna and London, where he became a much-loved star in operetta. He turns all his hopes and sardonic humour upon Andrew, and the gauche child from a remote country town becomes what Rudolf wants him to be ? an English gentleman.
Vivid, often hilarious stories of Rudolf's brilliant but blighted career and of his eccentric household are intertwined with the slow unfolding of the secrets that have shadowed Andrew's otherwise happy life. Told in matchless prose, this deeply moving novel captures a vanished epoch and a way of life with exquisite tact and restraint.
Critique: One of the post-war English literary greats, Paul Bailey is esteemed for the piercing finesse of his writing. His new novel Uncle Rudolf exemplifies that trait: it packs a telling and surprising emotional punch, despite its apparent slightness. The narrator is a partly Jewish Romanian, Andrew Peters, looking back on his colourful life. The eponymous hero is the narrator's opera-singing uncle, who rescued the young Peters from proto-Nazi Eastern Europe, and brought him to England. As Peters regards his early years by the Danube we get to see a picture of old mittel Europe through the exile's nostalgic and rhapsodic eyes:
Why was I thinking of pickled vegetables--of cauliflower and carrots; of green and red peppers; of radishes and red cabbage? I hadn't eaten the dish in a lifetime... and then, with an involuntary cry of anguish, and clear blue sky, I saw my mother and me tickling my father, who is pretending to be asleep on the grass.Poignant stuff, in itself. But Bailey/Andrews' intent isn't merely to paint a cameo portrait of Yiddish life, it's also to tell the story of how the stranger becomes the Englishman, and how intellectual and artistic values can be translated across borders.
As the scene shifts from Vienna to London to the opera houses of the world, what abides is the wit and life force of Uncle Rudolf and his bemused coterie of exiles: "He spoke in French, and very occasionally said something in his native Polish, but there was one English word, and one only, that he loved. It was "belly". He would pat his stomach and say "Mon belly", and then he'd laugh out loud. "Mon belly, Monsieur Petrescu. C'est enorme." This is a charming, exquisite, uplifting novel. --Sean Thomas
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