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Pilgrim Paperback – 22 May 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 485 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; paperback / softback edition (22 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 274415041X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571202683
  • ASIN: 0571202683
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 0.3 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Timothy Findley's Pilgrim is the story of a man who can't die even though he tries over and over to kill himself. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, in 1912 he's placed in a Zurich clinic where Carl Gustav Jung is hard at work trying to determine the perimeter of the collective unconscious. For Jung, this man becomes an embodiment of the psyche's mystery. Claiming to have no past history but to have simply arrived one day at consciousness, Pilgrim lives in a limbo outside individuality and subjectivity. He's everyone and no one. Is he a messenger? Or is he a basket case? As the novel gathers momentum, we realise that Pilgrim is a character much like Virginia Woolf's Orlando, a witness traversing gender and time. Imagining conversations between Pilgrim and Henry James, Leonardo da Vinci, and Oscar Wilde, this novel is like a party full of beautiful guests. Or a safe train trip through an exotic landscape of consciousness where men use cologne that smells like "moss...lemons...ferns", and schizophrenics are elegant and well dressed, like the old countess who believes she lives on the moon and asks her doctor, "Is this a ballroom? Am I being courted?" --Emily White

About the Author

Timothy Findley was born in Toronto in 1930. His first career was in the theatre; he was a charter company member of Ontario's Stratford Shakespearean Festival in 1953, and toured several European capitals.$$$In 1963, Findley turned to writing full-time and in 1977 his third novel, The Wars, won a Governor General's Award. It is now considered a Canadian classic. Following his bestsellers such as Famous Last Words, he won an Edgar Award for The Telling of Lies, while his collection of short stories, Stones, won Ontario's Trillium Award.$$$Findley's first work of non-fiction, Inside Memory: Pages from a Writer's Workbook, made him the first two-time winner of a Canadian Authors Association Award; he had earlier won its fiction counterpart for his novel, Not Wanted on the Voyage. He has also written plays, and his third, The Stillborn Lover (1993), won the CAA Drama Award, as well as winning an Arthur Ellis Award and Chalmers Award. His later novels include Headhunter (1993) and The Piano Man's Daughter (1995). His most recent play, Elizabeth Rex, was produced at the 2000 Stratford Festival in Canada.$$$Along with the likes of Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley has become one of Canada's most acclaimed and best-selling authors. In 2000, Faber published Pilgrim and reissued The Wars and Famous Last Words. His last novel, Spadework, was published in 2002, the year in which Timothy Findley died. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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First Sentence
Inside the front doors of the Burgholzli Psychiatric Clinic in Zurich, a nursed named Dora Henkel and an orderly whose name was Kessler were waiting to greet a new patient and his companion. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 July 2001
Format: Paperback
The book is misleading right from the start where it claims to be a story of a man who cannot die. We meet Pilgrim at the climax of his suffering when one of his many and varied attempts of suicide has failed. He is taken to the Alpine Insititute by a friend/believer/prophet/angel where he excites the interest of the radiantly arrogant Jung. As much the story of Pilgrim, this book follows the development of Jung, whose comfortable acceptance of his own faith and methods is gradually and painfully stretched, resulting in the flash of brilliance that becomes his understanding of the collective unconscious.
The book is like a rich, rude afternoon dream. Peopled with Saints, messengers, artists as diverse as Da Vinci and Oscar Wilde it is still the "real" humans in the book that give it honesty and that makes it as sad as it is funny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
To keep me hooked, a work of contemporary fiction needs to work in terms of character, narrative and superb writing quality. To be memorable, the work needs to be original, self assured and credible within its context. Findley's Pilgrim is first and foremost a fascinating creative work. The realm of an imbalanced mind is rich material to work with, but all too often writers can't manage the complexity or control the vast potential - they drown, taking the reader down with them. Findley avoids the obvious pitfalls and the reader is able to empathise with the variety of psychological profiles he encounters. It is arguable who the main character is - Pilgrim or Jung, and indeed, which of the two is suffering from mental illness. Few writers today can pull off Findley's rich style without eventually becoming tiresome - luckily, the reader is never conscious of a heavy hand. Findley is deft and subtle in the application of his craft, resulting in a truly entertaining read. Each of the characters is a worthy subject for a book of his/her own, and my criticism of the Pilgrim would simply be that a great deal of fascinating material is sadly left unexplored. Don't let the subject matter put you off - this is a thoroughly accessible, and yet elegant and layered work of creative fiction. Though the characters are complex, their rendering is crystal clear. If you like the works of John Fowles, you won't be disappointed here.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2001
Format: Paperback
From it's somewhat (dark) atmospheric start the book unravels gradually to expose the (weird & wonderful) life of Carl Gustav Jung & the Alpine sanatorium where he practised. The tale of "Pilgrim" & his many lives is both entertaining & educational... I for one will look at the Mona Lisa in a different light from now on. Top Stuff.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
Once again, Timothy Findley has delivered an ambitious work that collapses under the weight of his precious and melodramatic writing style. He manages even to reduce Carl Jung to a self-indulgent boob. With most of the characters writhing in psycho-sexual agony and ecstacy, the reader is left wishing for a simple, declarative sentence and some semblance of a point to the whole thing. Damned if I could find one. The writing is so lush and convoluted that it scompletely obscures what little story there is. All that remains is a jumble of myth and symbol, dreams and inner monolgues that is tiresome and hard to follow. To me, it was little more than a compendium of psychological cliches.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book has similarities with Woolf's 'Orlando' & Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray' in that it's about a man who is immortal. But I felt Findley's novel goes further with its examination of Nietzche's ideas of the eternal return and the Ubermensch (the Superman).
Basically, the eternal return is the theory that there is infinite time and a finite number of events, and eventually the events will recur again and again infinitely. Consider the world as a super-complex chess game. If games of chess are played one after another forever, eventually a game will be repeated since there is only a finite number of possible games - it is the same with the world; eventually events will recur in the same order. The world is an eternal process of coming to be and passing away.
This idea is explored with the character of Pilgrim. Pilgrim has witnessed one war after another, for example, throughout his eternal life. He has witnessed the mistakes that we mortal human beings have made over & over again. And one of the novels main focuses is concerned with Pilgrim's prophecy of the Great War. As the novel finishes, we realise that we mortals are to go to war again - like we have done again, and again, and again in the past.
One way in which this endless cycle can be overcome is to smash the beliefs and ideals that we humans have followed throughout our history. This is where Nietzsche's idea of the the Ubermensch or Superman comes in. It is only by overcoming traditional religion that we can reach our true potential by becoming a race of Supermen.
This Nietzchean idea is explored, for instance, when Pilgrim sets out destroy the Madonna & Child image in the stained glass windows of Chartes cathedral. He believes that human beings must overcome the constraints of our longly held beliefs if we are to move on and escape the eternal recurrence. For the immortal Pilgrim, his quest is to aid mortals to move beyond their simplistic concepts of good & evil.
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