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The Four Wise Men Paperback – 13 Aug 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; New Ed edition (13 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801857333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801857331
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 448,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

The Four Wise Men struck me as a true masterpiece.

(Lewis Jones New Statesman)

A work of extraordinary clarity.

(Jonathan Baumbach New York Times Book Review)

There is a real touch of magic in this novel.

(The Atlantic)

This is a novel of high achievement. Tournier works to assert an apologia of Christianity and its underlying message of love, and he does so with finely paced arguing, well-balanced counterarguing and, most importantly, genuine intellectual energy... This may be more than a novel of high achievement, in fact; it may be the best work so far of a truly daring writer.

(America)

Tournier is an ambitious and profound writer.

(Washington Post)

About the Author

Born in 1924, Michel Tournier studied philosophy and then became a journalist and a writer. He is the author of several novels, including The Ogre, Friday, and Gemini, also available in paperback from Johns Hopkins.


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I am black, but I am a king. Read the first page
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 May 1999
Format: Paperback
The idea behind the book was fantastic-- here finally are the personal lives of the three men whose historical story has been lodged within our literal and social culture. Then there is a fourth. As the cover states, while each story is enjoyable, it is really the fourth man, who never makes it to Bethlehem in time to see Jesus, who speaks the story of Christ. It's been a long time since I've so enjoyed a novel. What's more, it's well-written and creative and yet, it still has a STORY!!!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Clyde on 17 May 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the best writing you can get.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Wow a masterpiece 12 Jan 2001
By R. Rockwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Just as The Ogre presents a modern take on the legend of the Erl King, Michel Tournier receates the legend of the visitation of the Magi which has become a major part of Christian culture. Interestingly, as Tournier tells us in the Epilogue, the Magi are mentioned only in the gospel of Matthew and most of what we know of them was created much later. The book is a collection of interrelated tales told in the voices of five Kings including the traditional Magi, King Herod and the fourth King who is Tournier's ingenuous invention. Each King is profoundly affected by the birth of Jesus but it is the fourth King who experiences the most profound metamorphosis. Even though I appreciated the profound philosophic message of the book, it is the style of writing which is so impressive. I read each of the 250 pages in one sitting, unable to put it down. I had a hard time reading the last few pages because of the tears in my eyes. It has been quite a while since I have read anything so powerful!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
And All The King"s Men 18 Nov 2003
By Nick DeAngelo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Whether Michel Tournier's book, The Four Wise Men, hopes to inspire newfound faith in non-believers, or affirm a Christian tale matters not. In discarding all that is religious about this novel, it is easy to see a deeper quest for truth and happiness for the story's title characters. However, since putting aside religion regarding a work of such religious magnitude is impossible, one must assume that Tournier attempts to explore his themes with an answer in faith and hope. The men he follows, through deserts of salt and oceans of fury, achieve an enlightened existence, not by the child they meet, or the preacher they search for, but in the journey they must make.
Gaspar, King of Meroe, cast out from his kingdom by non-reciprocated love, follows the golden trail of a comet to the outskirts of Hebron, where he meets the art-loving ruler of Nippur, Balthasar. An unlikely pair, the two kings share in thought the idea of a non-Caucasian Adam, sharing stories of love: Gaspar's Biltine; Balthasar's Knight-Banneret. Their quest, later joined by Melchior, Prince of Palmyra, his throne usurped and father killed, leads them to the city of Jerusalem, to the very house of Herod the Great. It is there that the wise men learn of a great king to be born, the same king prophesized to build a kingdom of love, and it is there that their true voyage begins.
Tournier magically weaves together the tales of the three noble men, a fourth as noble and wise, Herod the Great, and tales of kings and fanciful beards. The key to his story, however, is not in the impressive retinues each king carries, or the banquets that seem to follow along, but with the humbled existence of the ass and the ox. Utility animals, epitomized in the two hardest workers, and, quite possibly, the two most dissimilar mammals in their field, settled comfortably on both sides of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The two animals are the finest example of the inhabitants of God's Kingdom. Tournier reinforces humility with stories of devastation, one after the other, capped off with nothing but hope. Gaspar hopes to find happiness in Biltine's freedom; Nippur hopes to bask in the reunification of image and likeness, pardoning the sin of art as a form of idolatry; Melchior hopes to begin a kingdom, different from the one he left behind, and abandon all bitterness that his loss had caused.
The final chapter of Tournier's book deals with Taor, Prince of Mangalore, who is the fourth wise aristocrat to travel in the path of the streaking comet. He abandons his quest for candy when he meets with the three kings. Through obstacles ranging in gravity he comes to see that his journey leads right to Jesus. Although Taor is perpetually late in witnessing Jesus' person, he never misses the chance to learn; his three fellow kings told him tales of angels, asses and a baby, and his partner in forced labor shared stories of miracles, healing, and feeding. Because of his most unfortunate tardiness, Taor shares the company of all classes during his journey. He becomes, by the end, the realization of all that Jesus is teaching without even knowing it. Sacrifices made on the part of strangers, sincere interest in doing good, and the urge to free men obliged to him, all exemplify Christian teachings to the fullest. So what is his reward? Eternal life with Jesus Christ, as shown in the book's very last sentence: "The night sky opened, revealing a sea of light, and into it they bore the man who, after having been last, the eternal latecomer, had just been the first to receive the Eucharist" (Tournier, p. 249).
Although I wouldn't call Michel Tournier an exceptional writer, he would certainly qualify as a master storyteller, like Sangali, taking an ancient tale, and retelling it to exploit the deeper meanings. Four men led away from their homes for very concrete reasons, find an answer in very abstract terms, and their reward, just like Nabunassur's, is eternal life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Arabian nights meets Matthew's gospel 28 April 2006
By Ventura Angelo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Marvelous, richly woven tale of the legendary Three wise Men who visited Jesus. The Evangelist Matthew doesn't say they were three, or that they were kings; post-Gospel legend gave them names, and Michel Tournier add his imagination and his exquisite art of writing, giving the three wise men, plus a late-comer fourth a life and a personality, fascinating and moving.
The book was fantastic. Definitely recommend. 27 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The idea behind the book was fantastic-- here finally are the personal lives of the three men whose historical story has been lodged within our literal and social culture. Then there is a fourth. As the cover states, while each story is enjoyable, it is really the fourth man, who never makes it to Bethlehem in time to see Jesus, who speaks the story of Christ. It's been a long time since I've so enjoyed a novel. What's more, it's well-written and creative and yet, it still has a STORY!!!!
A wonderful writer 18 Dec 2013
By MimiDomdom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It might sound or look seasonal, but it is much more. One of my favorite books of all time !
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