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Synopsis: Sibylla, a single mother from a long line of frustrated talents, has unusual ideas about child rearing. Yo Yo Ma started piano at the age of two; her son starts at three. J.S. Mill learned Greek at three; Ludo starts at four, reading Homer as they travel round and round the Circle Line. A fatherless boy needs male role models; so she plays the film of Seven Samurai as a running backdrop to his childhood. While Sibylla types out back copies of Carpworld to pay the rent, Ludo, aged five, moves on the Hebrew, Arabic and Japanese, aerodynamics and edible insects of the world - they might come in handy, if he can just persuade his mother he's mature enough to know his father's name. He is bound for knowledge of a less manageable sort, not least about his mother's past. And at the heart of the book is the boy's changing relationship with Sibylla - contradictory, touching and tender.
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
Title: The Last Samurai
Publisher: Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: New
Book Description Condition: acceptable. 340 Gramm. Seller Inventory # M00099284626-B
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Condition: Used; Good. **SHIPPED FROM UK** We believe you will be completely satisfied with our quick and reliable service. All orders are dispatched as swiftly as possible! Buy with confidence!. Seller Inventory # mon0001001049
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Condition: Used; Good. stain on side. **SHIPPED FROM UK** We believe you will be completely satisfied with our quick and reliable service. All orders are dispatched as swiftly as possible! Buy with confidence!. Seller Inventory # 3198814
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Condition: Used; Good. Seller Inventory # 1053931
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Book Description Vintage 04/10/2001, 2001. Condition: Very Good. This book is in very good condition and will be shipped within 24 hours of ordering. The cover may have some limited signs of wear but the pages are clean, intact and the spine remains undamaged. This book has clearly been well maintained and looked after thus far. Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. . Seller Inventory # 7719-9780099284628
Book Description Vintage 04/10/2001, 2001. Paperback. Condition: Very Good. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in very good condition. Remember if you are not happy, you are covered by our 100% money back guarantee. Seller Inventory # 6545-9780099284628
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Condition: Very Good. Seller Inventory # U9780099284628
Book Description Paperback. 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. Seller Inventory # GOR001159988
Book Description Paperback. Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Seller Inventory # GOR001416540