At the turn of the eighteenth century, a writer—a Jew—enters an English country manor, where he has been invited to read through the night to his host until the gentleman falls asleep. What unfolds then are seemingly unconnected stories covering a vast array of topics—from incest to madness to a poetic competition in the court of George III. And what emerges by the end is a breathtaking tapestry in which past and present, imagination and truth, are intricately woven together into one remarkable whole.
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One of Europe's most innovative and admired thinkers and writers, Gabriel Josipovici has published more than a dozen novels, three volumes of short stories, several books of criticism, and plays that are widely performed throughout Europe. He lives in Lewes, England.From Publishers Weekly:
The U.K.–based Josipovici (Only Joking) offers an intriguing textual fugue on J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. That great work was published in 1741 and was possibly written for one Count Keyserlingk, whose personal musician may have been a man named Goldberg. In Josipovici's version, set in 1800, a German-Jewish writer named Samuel Goldberg is hired to read to the rich insomniac Tobias Westfield. Westfield claims to have read everything that has been written, so Goldberg is compelled to invent a story nightly: this book. In one piece, Goldberg recounts his experiences speculating on philosophy in the court of the local German king. In another, Goldberg's wife writes a first-person account of what it is like to be Mrs. Goldberg—or is Goldberg telling Westfield what his wife's innermost thoughts might be? Another piece recounts the breakup of a middle-aged British writer and his wife while on holiday in Switzerland—in the late 20th or early 21st century. Round and round goes the fugue (there are 30 "variations," as in the Bach) riffing backward and forward. It's a winning puzzle book à la Michael Frayn, best read as an homage to Bach's masterpiece's thick history. (Mar.)
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