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Night's Lies Paperback – 15 Jul 1999


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Paperback, 15 Jul 1999
£61.15 £0.81

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Product details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill P.; New e. edition (15 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860461107
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860461101
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.6 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,503,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

In an island fortress prison, four political prisoners, sentenced to death for plotting against the Bourbon monarchy, spend their last night before they go to the guillotine. As they see the scaffold set up, they search through their past to find some pattern that will give meaning to their fate.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Sn Cottam on 28 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback
In an island fortress in mid 19th century Italy four prisoners convicted of an act of political terrorism spend their last night before being guillotined. Behind them is the shadowy figure of their movement's leader, whom the authorities are desperate to trace and for whose name the whole group can buy its reprieve and freedom. Locked in a prison chapel with a mysterious bandit-monk also condemned to die in the morning, the four take turns to tell their stories.
Spare, precise, clear prose tells the intersecting story of the four, ending in the prison cell. But who, if any, is telling the truth? What is the truth anyway? Will one crack as dawn approaches, and betray his leader by saving himself and his comrades? Gesualdo Bufalino, a Sicilian master who should be better known and whose superb imagination was tragically ended by an autostrada accident, tells a story worthy of one of Voltaire's philosophical fables.
Beautifully written, deeply thought out, highly recommended.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jun 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a very cleverly written book. It tackles many issues with the separate stories of the characters that come together to give a thriller-like final twist.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Daibolus ex Machina 8 Sep 2008
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Impossibly lyrical and distilled by a humanity that betrays a compassionate stirring through the residual wailings of the immortal lot as the screams of pastilential expressions calumniate the purity of the brave. Gesulado Bufalino's novel was compared to Alexander Dumas and Di Lampedusa, Boccaccio and Sciascia, Calvino and Borges by I think it must be cast in a mold much more becoming his style and lyricism. I gather the best kins to Bufalino are the latest Jose Saramago, the indomitable Nabakov and the German Hermann Broch, the latter a less well known fabulist that is rightly ranked amoung the greatest of any era by late 20th century critics (Arendt, Adorno and Calvino to name a few) with whom I concord enthusiastically.

The setting of Night's Lies is an island fortress, craggy, volcanic, inhospitable. In its confines are four prisoners - a baron, a chivalrous poet, a soldier with a religious penchant and an student in love - all condemned for plotting against the Bourbon King. On the eve of their execution, the ailing and aging governor of the fortress offers them a last minute reprieve: If one of the four will reveal the identity of their mysterious leader, known as God the Father, all will go free. They pass the hours of their last night in the company of a renowned bandit chief, with whom they take turns telling stories, narratives of love and war, vengeance and lotalty. As death approaches each is faced with the ultimate judgement whereby is decreed whether his life had any meaning, and to what, if anything, he owes his allegiance.
A magnificently constructed, exquisitely written, excellently translated timeless work that traces the boundaries of a fabulist territory only to walk its contours, as if to delineate the metafictional which borders on the will of a postexistential testament, where the beyond gravitates within the empty core of its pull.
It is an easy fluid entertainig telling that coils and winds with interminable joy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Post-existential Fable 8 Sep 2008
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Impossibly lyrical and distilled by a humanity that betrays a compassionate stirring through the residual wailings of the immortal lot as the screams of pastilential expressions calumniate the purity of the brave. Gesulado Bufalino's novel was compared to Alexander Dumas and Di Lampedusa, Boccaccio and Sciascia, Calvino and Borges by I think it must be cast in a mold much more becoming his style and lyricism. I gather the best kins to Bufalino are the latest Jose Saramago, the indomitable Nabakov and the German Hermann Broch, the latter a less well known fabulist that is rightly ranked amoung the greatest of any era by late 20th century critics (Arendt, Adorno and Calvino to name a few) with whom I concord enthusiastically.

The setting of Night's Lies is an island fortress, craggy, volcanic, inhospitable. In its confines are four prisoners - a baron, a chivalrous poet, a soldier with a religious penchant and an student in love - all condemned for plotting against the Bourbon King. On the eve of their execution, the ailing and aging governor of the fortress offers them a last minute reprieve: If one of the four will reveal the identity of their mysterious leader, known as God the Father, all will go free. They pass the hours of their last night in the company of a renowned bandit chief, with whom they take turns telling stories, narratives of love and war, vengeance and lotalty. As death approaches each is faced with the ultimate judgement whereby is decreed whether his life had any meaning, and to what, if anything, he owes his allegiance.
A magnificently constructed, exquisitely written, excellently translated timeless work that traces the boundaries of a fabulist territory only to walk its contours, as if to delineate the metafictional which borders on the will of a postexistential testament, where the beyond gravitates within the empty core of its pull.
It is an easy fluid entertainig telling that coils and winds with interminable joy.

Here below some reviews on publication date by literary journalist: Patrick McGrath, The Washington Post "The imagery in Night's Lies is as fresh and vivid as the events depicted . . . The ending is both astonishing and satisfying . . . a resolution undreamed of because it was in front of your eyes all along."
Kirkus Reviews "Bufalino is a gifted storyteller who has created an elegant fable that, like the best of the genre, can be enjoyed and savored on many levels. A deceptively simple story, with an ending that is stunning."
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Night's Lies sheds light on honour and betrayal 29 May 2002
By Denise - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you know you are to die tomorrow, how would you spend the last night of your life? The same dilemma troubles four political prisoners, a baron, a soldier, a poet, and a student in Gesualdo Bufalino's Night's Lies. On the last night before they go under the guillotine for plotting against the Bourbon monarchy, the four characters review their lives. Is it more betrayal and regret? Or do they find vindication in confession?
Night's Lies is good story-telling. This tale is a brilliant execution of setting, characterization, narrative, and irony. The setting parallels the moral and spiritual exile of the prisoners. Set in a remote fortress on an inhospitable island that "is known as an island but ought to be called a rock. For it is nothing more than a stack of volcanic tufas heaped up into the form of an enormous snout, wearisomely steep in places, but for the most part bare, sheer crag". "As by a tortuous path you clamber up, your eye embraces on the one hand the immensity of the open sea, an infinite reach of blue to the western horizon; on the other, beyond the neck of water, there is the mainland, where you glimpse a harbour, a crescent of dwarf houses; but neither man nor motion."
The man who holds part of the key to their destinies is Consalvo De Ritis, the Governor, who strikes a deal with the prisoners. If one of them should anonymously name their leader by sunrise, then all of them would be freed. If not, all of them hang. They are placed in a small room for the night.
Ingafu, the Baron; Saglimbeni, the Poet; Agesilaos, the Soldier; and Narcissus, the Student narrate in turn their own tales of intrigue, love, lust, violence, jealousy, honour, and twists of fate. They seem to be trying to convince not only the others but also themselves of the sense and purpose of their lives, all knowing that death awaits them in one form or another.
Do they betray their leader but lose their own souls? Or do they find some way to escape their fate? Night's Lies is an intriguing tale that evokes the danger and relief of holding a mirror to our lives and wondering what it all means. Just the ending in itself is worth the read.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A mystical night 27 April 2001
By "smusco" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I just finished the book and I strongly recommend it. Although very hard to read and full of historical references, the plot is very thick and keeps your attention high throughout the journey. If you liked the Decameron you'll love this book, if you like historical fiction this is the book for you, if you want to know more about Sicily's history don't hesitate to pick the book in your hands. Best to read with a glass of Brandy on a coffee table, out on a porch overlooking the ocean, during a warm starry summer night. E-mail me for suggestion on similar books. Enjoy it Simone
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic and Fascinating 17 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bufalino writes gorgeous prose and I think that's the first thing anyone who reads this book will notice. In fact, the language seemed a little too beautiful for the cruel subject matter and the lives of some of the characters.
Although this book has a political theme (four prisoners are sentenced to death for plotting against the Bourbon monarchy), this really isn't a political book in any sense of the word. Instead, it's a study of deception, of truth, of what is real and what is only imagined. It's a study of cunning storytelling that will keep any intelligent reader engrossed until the very last page. Bufalino is certainly playing a game with the reader, but he does play fair.
The four prisoners decide to pass the last night of their lives with each telling a tale that is significant in his life. While each has a tale to tell, how much of his tale is truth and how much is deception? And who, in the end, will discern the truth from the lie?
The answer is right in front of us, almost from page one, something that makes Night's Lies all the more intriguing.
Night's Lies is a short book, a novella really, that can easily be read in one sitting, surely in one evening. It is, however, despite its brevity, a book that packs a punch. Well worth the time and highly recommended.
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