In the early hours of April 17, 1912, two nights after the sinking of the Titanic, a man named Pilgrim, author of a renowned book on Leonardo da Vinci, steps into the garden of his London home and hangs himself. Amazingly, five hours later his heart starts beating again, and he revives. Findley (Headhunter; The Telling of Lies) is at his peak in this story of a man who cannot die, but has grown so weary and despairing of life that he longs only to escape it. Pilgrim, under the care of his wealthy friend Lady Sybil Quartermaine, is removed to the B rgholzli Psychiatric Clinic in Z rich, where Carl Jung, a principal doctor, is persuaded to take on his case. Is Pilgrim mad, or is Jung, struggling to find himself as a theorist and to sustain his uneasy marriage, the one who is deluded? Did Pilgrim dream of the fate of the Titanic victims, and is he dreaming now of the carnage of the coming world war? Did he, as his journals attest, know da Vinci, know St. Teresa of Avila, help build the great cathedral at Chartres? The story moves back and forth from Pilgrim's mind to Jung's, to Pilgrim's journals as they're being read by Emma Jung--who seems to understand Pilgrim's dilemma far better than her husband does. Ambitious doesn't half describe a novel that includes an eyewitness account of the death of Hector in the Trojan War, appearances by Henry James and Oscar Wilde, and both the woman who posed for the Mona Lisa and her reincarnated self as the man who's just stolen it from the Louvre. Aimed at the general reader, not James scholars, Jungians or fans of Virginia Woolf's similarly premised Orlando, this is a polished and exhilarating entertainment that's challenging, mystifying and expertly crafted, even if its kaleidoscopic perspective is no longer entirely fresh. 4-city author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000 Release date: 01/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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