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Exquisite Corpse [Hardcover]

Robert Irwin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1997
Caspar is a mildly promising surrealist painter living in 1930s London, who secretly longs for the ordinary. He meets Caroline who seems ordinary enough until she vanishes. Caspar's obsessive quest to find her leads him into a more surreal landscape than any he could imagine. The dazzling interplay of fiction and fact-within-fiction is at the heart of this wondrous work of imagination from one of the most intriguing writers at work today.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067944274X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679442745
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,445,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An off-beat, brisk and darkly comic new novel. Robert Irwin is a
deft writer with a fine ironic touch.
-- Brooke Allen, The New York Times

Exquisite Corpse is among the most adventurous, ambitious and
daring novels published so far this decade. -- Nicholas Royale, Time Out

It is both funny and intense. A.S. Byatt campaigned for the novel
to win the 1995 Booker prize. -- Myfanwy Bowering, Buzz Magazine

Robert Irwin is a master of the surreal imagination...full of
astonishing insights and hilarious pretensions. Superb. -- Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times

Robert Irwin's novel about English surrealism is funny and
profound and hugely satisfying. -- A.S. Byatt, Sunday Times Books of the Year --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Another classic from the author described by Ruth Rendell as
'a writer of rare insight'. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining and compelling 7 Aug 2008
I loved this book and found it utterly compelling - a light-hearted look at an eccentric group of surrealists in 1930's London. This book is highly humourous and full of twists. A joy to read. If only more books were as wacky and unpredictable as this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love his work. 12 Dec 2012
By StuBow
I live in NZ and was handed "Satan Wants Me" by a British friend. Loved the book, but unfortunately lended to a travelling friend and have never had the pleasure of re-reading. It seems impossible to buy any of Robert Irwin's books in NZ, so when trying to purchase the book again from Amazon I thought I'd take a punt on "Exquisite Corpse" instead.
The guy just takes you down very unlikely paths. You give up guessing the plot quite early on and let the books take you. Both books are excellent and I just find it unbelievable that they are consumed by so few. If I had written either of these books I'd be very very proud of myself. Hope you read this review Robert, love your work buddy.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surrealist fantasy with a strong edge 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Irwin has produced his masterpiece with this novel. His unusual narrative strength draws the reader into the plot while at the same time challenging his or her conception of reality. Utterly readable while at the same time thought provoking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely surreal and filled with art! 2 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Robert Irwin's literary masterpiece, Exquisite Corpse sends the reader into a surrealist world of deception and dreams. His use of informal language captures the tone of the novel completely and adds to the sincerity of the work. The creation process of art correlates with the progress of Exquisite Corpse as Caspar discovers his muse of inspiration, Caroline. The novel is a first person account of Caspar's life, sort of a journal kept through his most intruiging portions of life. As interpreted by Caspar, the reader is often challenged with the thought that perhaps Caspar is making up the story as he goes along. That perhaps none of his experiences are true and that he is a pathetic drunk trying to make some sense of his life through broken memories. Irwin's use of words and imagery create a new universe as seen through Caspar's eyes. His quirky friends and enemies all have the feel of opera characters--highly overexaggerated and overdramatic. As for Caroline, she has the feeling of a non-existent dream. Did Caspar dream her up or was she real? Was Caroline the embodiment of all of his desires and fears in life, the fear of rejection and the loss of love? Or was she a human being? Only the author knows the truth and we are left to figure out this mystery ourselves. Yet, what Irwin creates is a man, lost of all reason, lost in his thoughts and dreams, making up the perfect ending to his tired life of love lost and turmoil. All in all, Exquisite Corpse is a trip through the mind of a surrealist, mind you, it's not a smooth running course, but a course that has no boundaries whatsoever.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Beauty must be convulsive or not at all" - Breton 2 Aug 2001
By Seth A. Doolin - Published on Amazon.com
Irwin's Exquisite Corpse captures the spirit and verve of the Surrealist Revolution more comprehensively than any since Artaud or Lautremont. Those well-versed in Surrealist literature will not only appreciate the nudges, winks, and deftly dropped names, but also appreciate the taste of Surrealism in the 30s as tensions within the camp as well as with former allies such as the Trotskyists, French Communists, and Psychoanalysts are represented within the narrative. As a piece of historical fiction the power of this novel lies in Irwin's ability to take the constellation of events and tensions within Surrealism and with the world at large and internalize them in the character of Caspar. Those unfamiliar with Surrealism or the period may need to do some homework before approaching the novel, though. However, the extra work will be well worth the effort.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Reactions 22 July 2001
By "mentat327" - Published on Amazon.com
I think most people will have an extreme reaction to this book. You will really like it; you will really dislike it; or you will be really confused as to whether or not you like it. With a story that can evoke such strongly varied reactions, it is worthy of praise no matter what the result.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite 2 Aug 2000
By Louisa - Published on Amazon.com
This is my favourite book, but i dont expect it to be great for everyone. You need to be in a certain mind set for it, although it's not incomrehendable. If you like surrealism, or odd love srories, you'll most likely enjoy this book. Although Casper is a surrealist, he is not annoying and does not dwell on boring topics. The book is not depressing either. The last chapter is also on of the best. I recomend this book to everyone whose favourite movie is Harold and Maude BTW (as is mine)
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