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Helen DeWitt Last Samurai

ISBN 13: 9781784707965

Last Samurai

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Helen DeWitt's extraordinary debut, The Last Samurai, centers on the relationship between Sibylla, a single mother of precocious and rigorous intelligence, and her son, who, owing to his mother's singular attitude to education, develops into a prodigy of learning. Ludo reads Homer in the original Greek at 4 before moving on to Hebrew, Japanese, Old Norse, and Inuit; studying advanced mathematical techniques (Fourier analysis and Laplace transformations); and, as the title hints, endlessly watching and analyzing Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, The Seven Samurai. But the one question that eludes an answer is that of the name of his father: Sibylla believes the film obliquely provides the male role models that Ludo's genetic father cannot, and refuses to be drawn on the question of paternal identity. The child thinks differently, however, and eventually sets out on a search, one that leads him beyond the certainties of acquired knowledge into the complex and messy world of adults.

The novel draws on themes topical and perennial--the hothousing of children, the familiar literary trope of the quest for the (absent) father--and as such, divides itself into two halves: the first describes Ludo's education, the second follows him in his search for his father and father figures. The first stresses a sacred, Apollonian pursuit of logic, precise (if wayward) erudition, and the erratic and endlessly fascinating architecture of languages, while the second moves this knowledge into the world of emotion, human ambitions, and their attendant frustrations and failures.

The Last Samurai is about the pleasure of ideas, the rich varieties of human thought, the possibilities that life offers us, and, ultimately, the balance between the structures we make of the world and the chaos that it proffers in return. Stylistically, the novel mirrors this ambivalence: DeWitt's remarkable prose follows the shifts and breaks of human consciousness and memory, capturing the intrusions of unspoken thought that punctuate conversation while providing tantalizing disquisitions on, for example, Japanese grammar or the physics of aerodynamics. It is remarkable, profound, and often very funny. Arigato DeWitt-sensei. --Burhan Tufail

About the Author:

Daughter of an American diplomat, Helen DeWitt was born in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in 1957 and grew up in Latin America. Abandoning a degree at Smith College, she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in 1979 to study classics. A Senior Scholarship at Brasenose College enabled her to get a DPhil and discover Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa and Mel Brooks. She left academia in 1988 to write a novel; she had 100 unfinished novels on her hard drive when The Last Samurai was published in 2000 to international acclaim. Her second novel, Lightning Rods, was published in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. She has contributed installations to Artists Space in New York and was resident and participant in the Plastic Words series at Raven Row in London. In descending order of proficiency she knows Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese. She is based in Berlin.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780811225502: The Last Samurai

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ISBN 10: 081122550X ISBN 13: 9780811225502
Publisher: New Directions, 2016
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9780786866687: The Last Samurai

Miramax, 2000
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9780099284628: The Last Samurai

Vintag..., 2001
Softcover

9780786887002: The Last Samurai

Miramax, 2002
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9780676973259: The Last Samurai

London..., 2000
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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. 'Fiercely intelligent, very funny and unlike anything else I've ever read' MARK HADDON'Original.witty.playful.a wonderfully funny book' JAMES WOOD'A triumph - a genuinely new story, a genuinely new form' A. S. BYATTEleven-year-old Ludo is in search of a father. Raised singlehandedly by his mother Sibylla, Ludo's been reading Greek, Arabic, Japanese and a little Hebrew since the age of four; but reading Homer in the original whilst riding the Circle Line on the London Underground isn't enough to satisfy the boy's boundless curiosity. Is he a genius? A real-life child prodigy? He's grown up watching Seven Samurai on a hypnotising loop - his mother's strategy to give him not one but seven male role models. And yet Ludo remains obsessed with the one thing his mother refuses to tell him: his real father's name. Let loose on London, Ludo sets out on a secret quest to find the last samurai - the father he never knew. Seller Inventory # AAZ9781784707965

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