Historisch Michael, Ib Prince

ISBN 13: 9780374237233

Prince

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9780374237233: Prince

Hovering on the seductive borderline between realism and fantasy, Prince is an evocative, richly imagined novel about a defining season in the life of a young outcast. In 1912 at a provincial Danish seaside hotel, twelve-year-old Malte, a charity, case from the city, revels in the freedom of summer. A solitary boy, Malte spends his days on the beach, transfixed by the sea. When a coffin containing a young sailor drifts ashore, Malte is soon absorbed in the sailor's tragic love story and dramatic death, and their fates become dangerously intertwined.

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Review:

Ib Michael's Prince is the story of a poor, illiterate child from the city sent to the Danish coast to be a "summer boy" at a seaside resort. Masterfully translated from the Danish by Barbara Haveland, this is a subtly bewitching novel in which everything pulses with the promise of enchantment. On the beach, 12-year-old Malte entertains himself for hours, as only a deeply neglected child can:

He lays starfish in the bottom of the jar and holds them up to the sky. Slowly he turns in a circle, leaving a wreath of sunflower petals in the sand with the soles of his feet, puts his eye to the bottom, and uses the jelly jar as a stargazer. Dissolved in light, he watches the galaxies whirling through space.
Malte dreams of ships, glaciers, long trips down the Amazon where dolphins live in the trees. He has a guardian angel who narrates much of the story, but whose existence is so tentative there is no question that he is powerless over the boy's fate, unable to intervene when the boy stumbles into dangerous circumstances.

As the tale of an orphan, Prince evokes that free-floating homesickness that beautiful places can evoke in rootless people. It brings to mind Hubert Fichte's The Orphanage, a little known but equally memorable book. Both are novels of childhood in which the child is abandoned, waiting on the shore of history for a wave to wash him out to sea. Born into harsh circumstances, these children have already realized that the world is a merciless place. As characters, they are free of the naiveté that so many childhood novels are rotten with. It is up to Malte to make sense of the world, to see a dead man and realize that "the living take their color from the blood." That's childlike wisdom in the best possible sense. --Emily White

About the Author:

Ib Michael is one of Denmark's foremost writers. The author of more than twenty books, he has traveled throughout the world. Prince is his first novel to be published in the United States. He lives in Copenhagen.

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Michael, Ib
ISBN 10: 0374237239 ISBN 13: 9780374237233
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