New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year
London, 1782: center of science and commerce, home to the newly rich and the desperately poor. In the midst of it all is the Giant, O'Brien, a freak of nature, a man of song and story who trusts in myths, fairies, miracles, and little people. He has come from Ireland to exhibit his size for money. O'Brien's opposite is a man of science, the famed anatomist John Hunter, who lusts after the Giant's corpse as a medical curiosity, a boon to the advancement of scientific knowledge.
In her acclaimed novel, two-time Man Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel tells of the fated convergence of Ireland and England. As belief wrestles knowledge and science wrestles song, so The Giant, O'Brien calls to us from a fork in the road as a tale of time, and a timeless tale.
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Like Andrew Miller (Ingenious Pain, Casanova in Love) and Penelope Fitzgerald (The Blue Flower), Hilary Mantel turns to the 18th century in order to make a universal point. Her eighth novel, The Giant, O'Brien, takes place during that bifurcation of mind and spirit known as the Age of Reason. The year is 1782 and Charles O'Brien has fled Ireland, bringing both his massive frame and his ancient folk tales to England, where he hopes to make his fortune as a sideshow exhibit. "His appetite was great, as befitted him; he could eat a granary, he could drink a barrel. But now that all Ireland is coming down to ruin together, how will giants thrive? He had made a living by going about and being a pleasant visitor who fetched not just the gift of his giant presence but also stories and songs ... many hearths had welcomed him as a prodigy, a conversationalist, an illustration from nature's book. Nature's book is little read now, and he thought this: I had better make a living in the obvious way. I will make a living from being tall."
Unfortunately, O'Brien's height attracts more attention than he might like: John Hunter, a surgeon, becomes fascinated with the giant and obsessed with the possibility of dissecting him after he's dead. Thus Mantel sets up the central conflict of her novel: Hunter's thirst for knowledge and fame versus O'Brien's conviction that without his body his soul cannot go to heaven. In the mean streets of 18th-century London, the author explores the division of soul and body, imagination and rationalism, as she juxtaposes the two men's lives. In this collision of cultures and points of view, she offers no easy answers, but instead turns a disturbing spotlight on questions that continue to resonate to the present day. --Alix WilberFrom the Inside Flap:
The year is 1782; the place, London: centre of science and commerce, home to the newly rich and magnet to the desperately poor-among whom is the Giant, O'Brien, a freak of nature. He is a man of songs and stories who believes in ancient myths. He has come to London to exhibit his size for money. He has also, he discovers, come there to die.
His opposite is a man of science, a society surgeon, the famed anatomist John Hunter, employer of a legion of grave robbers. He lusts after the Giant's corpse. Coin is offered, but the Giant refuses. He will be buried; he will assume his throne in heaven. But money changes hands as friends are bribed. The Giant sickens, dies. Today, his bones may be viewed by any curious stranger who visits Hunter's London museum.
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Book Description HENRY HOLT., 1998. Book Condition: Good. First Edition. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP59927479
Book Description HENRY HOLT. Hardcover. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Bookseller Inventory # 2811936686
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR008667642
Book Description HENRY HOLT., 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 0385258321. Bookseller Inventory # IM20996
Book Description HENRY HOLT., 1998. Book Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 0385258321-2-4
Book Description HENRY HOLT. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. 0385258321 Canadian first edition, first printing. Contains number line 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. Virtually no wear to jacket. Jacket is NOT price clipped. Covers are clean and bright. Edges are sharp. No tears or creases. The book itself is in Near Fine condition. The binding is straight and tight. NO remainder mark. Gift inscription on front end page. All of our books are marked down 40% until October 1, 2017 (Discount is already applied). Start loading up now!. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1016498
Book Description HENRY HOLT., 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: DJ. First Edition. 0385258321 Publisher: Henry Holt, NY., 1998. First Edition, First Printing. FINE hardcover book in FINE dust-jacket. PRISTINE. As New. Unread. Not remainder marked. Not price-clipped. Not a book club edition. Not an ex-library copy. All of our books with dust-jackets are shipped in fresh, archival-safe mylar protective sleeves. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1019509
Book Description Henry Holt and Company. New York., New York, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: As New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. First Edition/First Printing. Hardcover in unclipped dustjacket. 192 pages. A wonderful novel that tells of the fated convergence of two worlds: Ireland and England, poetry and materialism. As new. Unread. From my smoke-free collection. Bookseller Inventory # 890
Book Description Doubleday Canada Limited, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: As New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. First Edition. 192 pp. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Inscribed on the title page by the author to Greg Gatenby- Canadian writer and founder of the International Festival of Authors: "To Greg Gatenby With every good wish Hilary Mantel Toronto 1998". Signed by Gatenby on the ffep. Greg Gatenby was responsible for inviting the author to participate in this Toronto festival. A superb copy offered for sale by Come By Chance Books- a small, family-run bookshop in beautiful Niagara on the Lake. Bookseller Inventory # 6480
Book Description HENRY HOLT., NY, 1998. Cloth. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. First Edition. First American Edition. Near fine in fine dust jacket. (Hint of foxing at edges. ). Bookseller Inventory # 28770