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The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B [Paperback]

J. P. Donleavy
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 July 1970
The New York Times Book Review called The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B, J. P. Donleavy's hilarious, bittersweet tale of a lost young man's existential odyssey, "a triumphant piece of writing, achieved with that total authority, total mastery which shows that a fine writer is fully extended...." In the years before and after World War II, Balthazar B is the world's last shy, elegant young man. Born to riches in Paris and raised by his governess, Balthazar is shipped off to a British boarding school, where he meets the noble but naughty Beefy. The duo matriculate to Trinity College, Dublin, where Balthazar reads zoology and Beefy prepares for holy orders, all the while sharing amorous adventures high and low, until their university careers come to an abrupt and decidedly unholy end. Written with trademark bravado and a healthy dose of sincerity, The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B is vintage Donleavy.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 July 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140030565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140030563
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 9.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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He was born in Paris in a big white house on a little square off Avenue Foch. Read the first page
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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 Shocked! 19 Jan 2010
By Angus
I was given this book for Christmas by my father. He said that he had read it when he was my age and when he saw an old copy in a second-hand book shop he couldn't resist buying it for me.

I really didn't know what to expect from this, the blurb on the back doesn't give much away, the only real clue you get to the hilarity and smut that's inside is where it mentions that Balthazar is befriended by 'the worlds most beatific sinner'.

All I really want to say is that I was genuinely shocked when I read this book, shocked that my dad had read this and given it to me when he usually gives me books by people like Zola, Hesse or Camus, shocked that this book was never banned, shocked that I'd never heard of it before and shocked/upset that I can't see myself finding a better book for years to come.

I don't want to go into the technicalities of the book and it's writing style etc as other reviewers have said it much better than I could and I would only find myself repeating their words but would agree with the person that said it is like 'poetry disguised as prose'.

This is one of the funniest, filthiest and most touching books I've ever read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B 11 Mar 2011
Victoria Mary Clarke has descibed J.P. Donleavy as the 'last of the Irish literary geniuses'. He drank with Behan, amongst many others, and celebrated Dublin city life in a way that would always leave an indelible impression on the minds of any reader who stumbled upon him. I came to this superb novel by way of serendipity, receiving it in error. But my disappointment was soon transformed into that special feeling of not wanting a book to ever end. Donleavy's novels are often set in Ireland and often, at least in part, in Dublin. This one moves around from France, to London, through the midlands, then to Dublin. And it is in Dublin where Donleavy most successfully articulates his narrative and forms his characters. From porter to policeman, professor to patrician, Donleavy's voice comes shining through; a tragi-comic tale like no other.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a sad and funny book 11 July 2007
I read this when I was teenager and was so moved by it. I also saw a play version.
Balthazar B is as it says on the back cover 'the world's last shy elegant young man'. He is befriended at school by Beefy, his complete opposite, and they remain friends for many years.
There is an hilarious bit where Bathazar gets drunk, stumbles into a garden in the middle of the night, gets wrapped up in the washing hanging on a line, and gives the woman of the house the fright of her life.
It also contains some of the saddest writing I've ever read: ' As all hearts are. Worried lonely. Your eyes quiet. By the waters cold. Where the sadness lurks so deep. It doth make you still'.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a truly amazing book! 4 Aug 2005
By A Customer
I read this on the recommendation of someone close to my heart and was totally unprepared for how it would grip me from the very first page. The style of writing is unusual but effective and I was unable to put this book down, reading it from cover to cover in one day. The characters are wonderfully drawn, even those who feature only briefly, making it impossible for the reader not to become deeply involved. In 5 months I have read this twice more, finding new things each time. It's made me laugh and cry and I am in no doubt that I shall read it many more times in years to come, and always with a heartfelt thank you to the person who recommended it to me in the first place and changed my life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spellbinding, truly unputdownable book 26 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This book astonished me when I first read it twenty years ago and continues to do so today. The directness of the writing style, with its uniquely effective use of language and punctuation forces the reader to thoughtfulness at all times. The characterisations are so vivid it is impossible for the reader to remain detached from the emotions generated by the storyline. Whether read in its entirety or in selective short bursts (on the loo perhaps?) this book is a must for most bookshelves. An amazing title for an amazing book. You will probably buy more than one copy of this book.
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