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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A overlooked classic?, 23 July 2009
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This review is from: The Old Man and Mr. Smith (Paperback)
I was never sure about Peter Ustinov. I remember him popping up every now again on television - usually in the guise of a raconteur. Then I read 'The Old Man and Mr. Smith'. A simple premise; God comes down to Earth to see how mankind is getting along. And he brings Satan with him; who is not evil - just a bit of a rascal (Satan is very shocked to hear about Stalin, who was so much worse than this devil ever believed man could become). A simple premise - excellently executed. There are moments of great humour, wonderful irony (the Indians who have far more faith than God himself - who consequently is humbled), and Ustinov refuses to let mankind off the hook - there's no blaming the devil for man's sins or relinquishing one's responsibility to the fate and God. God's a bit of bumbling old fool in this telling; reminiscent I thought of Slartibartfast - Douglas Adam's superb creation. I never understood, and still don't understand, why this book popped up with such frequency in remainder bookshops and in charity shops ... All I can add is, give it go ... yes, I loved it the first time (nearly 20 years ago) and just re-read it joyfully all over again. Definitely a forgotten classic.
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