Daniel Kehlmann, Ross Benjamin
‘A masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control’ Ian McEwan
‘Brilliant and unputdownable’ Salman Rushdie
He’s a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake’s like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he’s watching you now and he’s gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!
In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He’s practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.
Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.
A prince’s doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.
With macabre humour and moving humanity, Daniel Kehlmann lifts this legend from medieval German folklore and enters him on the stage of the Thirty Years’ War. When citizens become the playthings of politics and puppetry, Tyll, in his demonic grace and his thirst for freedom, is the very spirit of rebellion – a cork in water, a laugh in the dark, a hero for all time.
'[D]arkly funny' Guardian best books of 2020 A skilfully written tale that is darkly entertaining and inventive * Sunday Times (Summer Reads) * It's typical Kehlmann, a delicious cocktail of philosophy, adventure and earthy humour * Sunday Express * a dazzling, picaresque romp * The Observer * Prodigiously imaginative . . . [A] brilliant, blackly sardonic retelling . . . In Mr. Kehlmann's unforgettable joker we have a picture of humankind in all of its madness and strutting pride * The Wall Street Journal * Profoundly enchanting but never sentimental, Tyll is a magnificent story . . . Kehlmann is a master of economical, devastating description . . . Chilling . . . In this exquisitely crafted novel, Kehlmann moves just as nimbly through the grimmest of human experiences. The result is a spellbinding memorial to the nameless souls lost in Europe's vicious past, whose whispers are best heard in fables. * The New York Times Book Review * Vivid . . . Kehlmann, a confident magician himself, plays his bright pages like cards. But he has a deeper purpose, which is revealed only gradually, as the grand climacteric of his chosen war steadily justifies its presence in the novel . . . Kehlmann is a gifted and sensitive storyteller . . . Despite the grimness of the surroundings and the lancing interventions of history, the novel's tone remains light, sprightly, enterprising. Kehlmann has an unusual combination of talents and ambitions-he is a playful realist, a rationalist drawn to magical games and tricky performances, a modern who likes to look backward * New Yorker * Like a magician, Kehlmann conjures comedy, farce and badinage, even in a blighted time of war * Financial Times * Tyll is an absorbing and, for a novel about a prankster, remarkably sincere novel * Literary Review * A romp through the thirty years' war... This energetic historical fiction, featuring a folkloric jester in a violent, superstitious Europe, is the work of an immense talent * Guardian * The narrative moves from myth to historical novel to ballad and back. and Ross Benjamin's translation follows it faithfully * The Spectator * Daniel Kehlmann's Tyll is a laugh-outloud-then-weep-into-your-beer comic novel about a war... Kehlmann is at the top of his game * The Times * A beautiful, engrossing and fascinatingly structured novel. Lucid, limpid, savage. Tyll quietly intrudes on our present crisis of European identity. Have four centuries made us any wiser? This novel is a masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control * Ian McEwan * Kehlmann's imagination runs deep and wild. It travels with the currents of history, in its cycles of brutality and violence, it reaches into our own solitude and silence, summoning us, it soars far and high, and echoes with the power of myth. -- Valeria Luiselli Tyll proves that Kehlmann is literature's jack-of-all trades. He manages to combine meticulous historical research and virtuoso language mimicry with a frightening exploration of our current sense of dystopia. An incredible educational experience and improbably entertaining. -- Michael Haneke A delight * Die Zeit * Possibly Kehlmann's best novel since Measuring the World * Suddeutsche Zeitung * Kehlmann's storytelling is astonishing * Die Welt * Kehlmann's best novel so far . . . amidst the destruction, in the places where nothing reflects the former inhabitants anymore, it is the dead who show themselves . . . we owe it to this novel that we can see the dead more clearly, so clearly that it hurts * Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung * A masterpiece . . . the most extraordinary European novel for many years . . . a brilliant book of stories, of great drama, cinematic and poetic . . . Kehlmann is at the height of his powers * Neue Zurcher Zeitung * The best novel Kehlmann has ever written . . . Deeply affecting, lively, brutal, wonderfully unreserved, modern, romantic German epic . . . Tyll is Kehlmann's victory over history, his historic triumph * Der Spiegel * This is a brilliant and unputdownable novel. Kehlmann is the true inheritor of the German fabulist tradition that stretches back to the Brothers Grimm and even further, and in the legendary prankster figure of Tyll Ulenspiegel he has found his perfect avatar * Salman Rushdie *
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