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The Oxford Book of Villains ISBN 13: 9780192822772

The Oxford Book of Villains - Softcover

 
9780192822772: The Oxford Book of Villains
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"The world may be short of many things," writes John Mortimer in the introduction to this marvelous volume, "rain forests, great politicians, black rhinos, saints, and caviar, but the supply of villains is endless. They are everywhere, down narrow streets and in brightly lit office buildings and parliaments, dominating family life, crowding prisons and law courts, and providing plots for most of the works of fiction that have been composed since the dawn of history." Now, in the ultimate rogue's gallery, Mortimer (best known as the author of Rumpole of the Bailey) has captured an arresting collection of crooks, murderers, seducers, con men, traitors, and tyrants--the world's greatest villains, both fictional and real.
Here readers who love mayhem (at least in print) will find villainy in all its shapes and sizes, from pickpockets and pirates to tyrants and financiers. Billy the Kid rubs shoulders with Mac the Knife, Captain Hook with Casanova, Caligula with Rasputin, Fagin with Dr Fu-Manchu. There are master criminals (such as Dr No, Raffles, or Professor Moriarty), minor miscreants (such as P.G. Wodehouse's Ferdie the Fly, "who, while definitely not of the intelligentsia, had the invaluable gift of being able to climb up the side of any house you placed before him, using only toes, fingers and personal magnetism"), and bumbling incompetents (such as Peter Scott, a Briton who in 1980 made seven attempts to kill his wife, without her once noticing that anything was wrong). We meet the soft-spoken murderer Armstrong, a gentle small-town lawyer, whose manners were so good that when he passed his intended victim a poisoned scone he uttered the immortal words, "Excuse my fingers." In addition, there is an account of the death of Billy the Kid, written by Jorge Luis Borges, and another of the tax evasion trial of Al Capone, by Damon Runyon. Mortimer has in fact ranged high and low, taking excerpts from the greats of literature--from the Bible, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton (where Lucifer has all the best lines, such as "Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n"), Moliere, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Hardy, Trollope, Mark Twain, and many others--and from the leading detective and mystery writers--including Eric Ambler, Dick Francis, Wilkie Collins, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, Ian Fleming, Angela Carter, and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Attractive scoundrels and incompetent rogues, calculating murderers and unscrupulous swindlers pack these pages with a richness and variety that will by turns delight, surprise and chill.

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About the Author:

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John Mortimer is author of Rumpole of the Bailey, the Leslie Titmuss books, Voyage Round My Father, and other volumes.
Review:
`absorbing...[a] hugely entertaining anthology' J. G. Ballard, Weekend Telegraph

'John Mortimer's volume is an enjoyable romp through the stories of bad guys in history, literature and legend ... this continuously entertaining book is full of lollipops, and the juxtaposition of Professor Moriarty, Fu Manchu, Count Fosco and Dr No takes the proceedings delightfully over the
top.'
Frank McLynn, Literary Review

'absorbing anthology ... Reading this hugely entertaining anthology, I detect a distinct moral shift down the waveband of iniquity.'
J.G. Ballard, Daily Telegraph

'John Mortimer has gathered here a horrible host of villains, mainly from literature, but a few, including the two Rippers, from life.'
Sandra Barwick, Daily Mail

' Mortimer's copntribution to the booming anthology industry is a stimulating collection of prose and poetry excerpted from the richly diverse literature of villainy, from the Old Testament to Stephen Pyle's Heroic Failures. This delicious compendium, handsomely bound in the Oxford University
Press's traditional dark-blue boards with letters of gold, is worth a thousand sermons.'
Patrick Skene Catling, The Irish Times

'Mortimer's contribution to the booming anthology industry is a stimulating collection of prose and poetry excerpted from the richly diverse literature of villainy, from the Old Testament to Stephen Pyle's Heroic Failures. This delicious compendium, handsomely bound in the Oxford University
Press's traditional dark-blue boards with letters of gold, is worth a thousand sermons.'
Patrick Skene Catling, The Irish Times

'a skilful mix of horror and humour, fiction and reality taken from some one hundred and seventy-seven widely differing sources dating from earliest time to the present day'
Sir David Hopkin, former Chief Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, The Magistrate, November 1992

'The object of The Oxford Book of Villains - which is undoubtedly achieved - is amusement. It offers hundreds of amusing and instructive moments.'
Roy Hattersley, The Sunday Times

'wonderfully entertaining collection ... Mortimer is ideally suited to the task of assembling this rogues' gallery of famous villains, both real and imagined ... this really is a most entertaining book'
Reading Chronicle

'A wealth of villains from John Mortimer ... Mortimer's Book of Villains is admirably arranged.'
Moira Shearer, Sunday Telegraph

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