The Last Samurai

DeWitt, Helen

Published by Chatto & Windus, 2000
ISBN 10: 0701169567 / ISBN 13: 9780701169565
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A crisp clean first edition, no markings throughout, no an ex-lib: Helen DeWitt's extraordinary debut novel The Last Samurai centres on the re lationship between Sibylla, a single mother of precocious and rigorous inte lligence, and her son Ludo, who, through his mother's singular attitude to education, develops into a prodigy of learning. He reads Homer in the origi nal Greek at the age of four before moving onto Hebrew, Japanese, Old Norse and Inuit; studying advanced mathematical techniques (Fourier analysis and Laplace transformations), and, as the title hints, endlessly watching and analysing Akira Kurosawa's cinematic masterpiece The Seven Samurai. But the one question that eludes an answer is that of the name of his father: Siby lla believes the Japanese film obliquely provides the male role models that Ludo's genetic father cannot supply, and refuses to be drawn on the questi on of paternal identity. The child thinks differently, however, and eventua lly sets out on a search for his lost father, a search which leads him beyo nd the certainties of acquired knowledge into the complex and messy world o f adults. The book draws on themes topical and perennial--the hothousing of children, the familiar literary trope of the quest for the (absent) father--and as such, the book divides itself into two halves: the first describes the education of Ludo, the second follows Ludo 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 pret. Bookseller Inventory #

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Called “remarkable” (The Wall Street Journal) and “an ambitious, colossal debut novel” (Publishers Weekly), Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai is back in print at last

Helen DeWitt’s 2000 debut, The Last Samurai, was “destined to become a cult classic” (Miramax). The enterprising publisher sold the rights in twenty countries, so “Why not just, ‘destined to become a classic?’” (Garth Risk Hallberg) And why must cultists tell the uninitiated it has nothing to do with Tom Cruise?

Sibylla, an American-at-Oxford turned loose on London, finds herself trapped as a single mother after a misguided one-night stand. High-minded principles of child-rearing work disastrously well. J. S. Mill (taught Greek at three) and Yo Yo Ma (Bach at two) claimed the methods would work with any child; when these succeed with the boy Ludo, he causes havoc at school and is home again in a month. (Is he a prodigy, a genius? Readers looking over Ludo’s shoulder find themselves easily reading Greek and more.) Lacking male role models for a fatherless boy, Sibylla turns to endless replays of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. But Ludo is obsessed with the one thing he wants and doesn’t know: his father’s name. At eleven, inspired by his own take on the classic film, he sets out on a secret quest for the father he never knew. He’ll be punched, sliced, and threatened with retribution. He may not live to see twelve. Or he may find a real samurai and save a mother who thinks boredom a fate worse than death.

Review: 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

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Last Samurai
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Near Fine/Near Fine
Edition: 1st Edition.

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Book Description Chatto & Windus, London, 2000. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good+. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First British Edition; First Printing. Light shelf wear to unclipped DJ. ; Black cloth boards with gilt lettering to spine, maroon endpapers. Review copy complete with release notes. Nice tight copy, no names or marks inside. ; 530 pages; Raising an incrediable intelligent and demanding child by yourself is hard work, and you need some male role model to help keep things balanced. Sybella chooses the film, the Seven Samurai, as her four year old son's authority figures, along with teaching him Greek, Japanese and edible insects, everything in fact except the name of his father. Seller Inventory # 8962

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DeWITT, HELEN: *S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R* **DEBUT NOVEL**
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Book Description Chatto & Windus, Random House, Inc., London, England SW1V 2SA, 2000. Hardcover. Condition: AS NEW ~ UNREAD & UNOPENED. Jacket Illustration: Emma Parker; Author's Photo by Jerry Bauer (illustrator). 1st BRITISH EDITION. This THICK and HEAVY *S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R* DEBUT NOVEL is an EBONY BEAUTY! Handsomely and Fully Bound in FAUX CLOTH with BRIGHT GOLD Spine Lettering. BURGANDY End Papers. No Headband, Glued Binding. Stated, "First Published in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus, London SW1V 2SA", "ISBN 0-7011-6956-7", and "Printed and Bound in Great Britain by MacKays of Chatham plc. Chatham, Kent". FIRST PRINTING w/full Number Line 1 ~ 10 (2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1. Spine is Tight & Crisp, Heel Gently Softened. Boards are Flat & True; the Corners are Square w/o Bumps. No Wear Marks on Edges. Pages are Clear, Clean, Unmarked. Pages 1 - 60 are Bright White, Pages 61 - 536 are Slightly Darker. No Marks. No Underlining. No Wrinkles or Creases. Not a REMAINDER. Not EX-LIB. Not BCE. No Bookplate, Stickers or Notes. Pictorial Dust Jacket is not Price Clipped, Listing £16.99, and ISBN-10: 0-701-16956-7. This PRISTINE FIRST EDITION will make a WELCOMED and VALUED Addition to your HELEN DeWITT Collection. The Book is from a SMOKE FREE LIBRARY. Enjoy Reading with a Real Book in your Hands! It is Great Good Fun! This is a GIFT QUALITY, COLLECTABLE, INVESTMENT COPY! **THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK*** PLEASE SEE OUR COLLECTION FOR ADDITIONAL TITLES BY THIS AUTHOR. This HEAVY BOOK May Require ADDITIONAL POSTAGE Determined by Delivery Address! [114]. NOT SIGNED. Seller Inventory # 002160

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