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Poor Things (British Literature): Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D. Scottish Public Health Officer - Softcover

 
9781564783073: Poor Things (British Literature): Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D. Scottish Public Health Officer
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One of Alasdair Gray's most brilliant creations, "Poor Things" is a postmodern revision of "Frankenstein" that replaces the traditional monster with Bella Baxter-a beautiful young erotomaniac brought back to life with the brain of an infant. Godwin Baxter's scientific ambition to create the perfect companion is realized when he finds the drowned body of Bella, but his dream is thwarted by Dr. Archibald McCandless's jealous love for Baxter's creation. The hilarious tale of love and scandal that ensues would be "the whole story" in the hands of a lesser author (which in fact it is, for this account is actually written by Dr. McCandless). For Gray, though, this is only half the story, after which Bella (a.k.a. Victoria McCandless) has her own say in the matter. Satirizing the classic Victorian novel, "Poor Things" is a hilarious political allegory and a thought-provoking duel between the desires of men and the independence of women, from one of Scotland's most accomplished authors.

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Review:
This work of inspired lunacy effectively skewers class snobbery, British imperialism, prudishness and the tenets of received wisdom.

Witty and delightfully written.--Geoff Ryman

A riotously comic, up-to-date Victorian romance . . . deft and frolicsome.

Gray here retells a tale that amalgamates Frankenstein and Candide . . . Along the way Gray offers delightful conversation, a tricksy triple ending, and some very witty writing.

Witty and delightfully written. --Geoff Ryman

Probably a crank, possibly a genius, certainly an original and independent voice, Alasdair Gray . . . has the look of a latter-day William Blake, with his extravagant myth-making, his strong social conscience, his liberating vision of sexuality and his flashes of righteous indignation tempered with scathing wit and sly self-mockery. --Merle Rubin

Lewis Carroll and Conan Doyle are acknowledged, but the authors Gray really revises are Sterne and Diderot, both comically self-analytic, Defoe, the creator of strong women, and Samuel Johnson or Voltaire, profound allegorists of the search for a good society . . . Poor Things is amusing and admirably angry, compassionate, and ironic as it looks in 1992 at the early days modern as well Victorian of a better nation. --Barbara Hardy

Bella Baxter surely merits a place among the holy innocents of literature Lemuel Gulliver, Don Quixote, Huck Finn, Prince Kropotkin and Holden Caulfield . . . Bound to call to mind other acidic commentaries on human folly Rasselas, Tristram Shandy, Candide. But can it be that Gray, with his fierce Hibernian contempt for 20th Century solutions for age-old problems, is the most piercing thorn on the bush?

An unexpected final twist doesn't make the novel seem trivial but, on the contrary, gives the vivid melodrama a retrospective gravity. You become aware that this odd book has been a great deal more than entertaining only on finishing it. Then your strongest desire is to start reading it again.
About the Author:
Alasdair Gray won the the Whitbread and Guardian Awards for POOR THINGS. He is also the author of THE BOOK OF PREFACES, the story-collection, TEN TALES TALL AND TRUE, and the groundbreaking modern classic, LANARK.

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  • PublisherDalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date2009
  • ISBN 10 1564783073
  • ISBN 13 9781564783073
  • BindingPaperback
  • Edition number1
  • Number of pages320
  • Rating

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