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Displaying his characteristic penchant for the macabre, the tender and the comic, Michael Tournier presents the traditional Magi describing their personal odysseys to Bethlehem--and audaciously imagines a fourth, "the eternal latecomer"' whose story of hardship and redemption is the most moving and instructive of all. Prince of Mangalore and son of an Indian maharajah, Taor has tasted an exquisite confection, rachat loukoum, and is so taken by the flavor that he sets out to recover the recipe. His quest takes him across Western Asia and finally lands him in Sodom, where he is imprisoned in a salt mine. There, this fourth wise man learns the recipe from a fellow prisoner, and learns of the existence and meaning of Jesus.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801857331
ISBN-10: 0801857333
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 140mm x 15mm)
Pages: 268
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 1-Aug-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » An ornate, tooled approach to Christian myth by the ever-elegant Tournier, who's especially well-served this time by translator Manheim. The star-following visitors to Baby Jesus in the manger - Gaspar, King of Meroe; Balthasar, King of Nippur; Melchior, Prince of Palmyra - are joined in Tournier's version by the apocryphal, peripheral, yet perhaps most crucial royal pilgrim of all: Taor, Prince of Mangalore. Son of an Indian maharajah, Taor has tasted a piece of pistachio rahat loukoum (Turkish delight); so exalted is he by the flavor, he sets out to recover the recipe, a fruitless quest that takes him across western Asia and finally lands him in Sodom, where he's imprisoned (the last of many misadventures) in a salt mine. There, ironically, where there is no sweetness, he learns from a fellow prisoner the recipe for the quested-after candy; he also learns of the existence of Jesus. And so Tournier's Christian parable is capped off with dualities and paradox - a mighty man brought low, finding the uttermost sweetness in a place of saltiness - as Taor comes to represent Faith (while the other wise men illustrate the fates of self-worth, art, and power). Less dense than the similarly metaphorical Gemini, but with far more narrative enchantment in its theme-weaving (color, image as likeness and essence, even sodomy), this is one of Tournier's better books: agile, quietly devious - though surely for a special audience, one that appreciates rarified artifice, exquisite variations on delicate ideas. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Michel Tournier

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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