Subjects Freshman Year Reading African American Studies African Studies American Studies Anthropology Art, Film, Music and Architecture Asian Studies Business and Economics Criminology Education Environmental Studies Foreign Language Instructional Materials Gender Studies History Irish Studies Jewish Studies Latin American & Caribbean Studies Law and Legal Studies Literature and Drama Literature in Spanish Media Issues, Journalism and Communication Middle East Studies Native American Studies Philosophy Political Science Psychology Reference Religion Russian and Eastern European Studies Science and Mathematics Sociology Study Aids

E-Newsletters: Click here to be notified of new titles in your field
Click here to request Desk/Exam copies
Freshman Year Reading
View Our Award Winners
Click here to view our Catalogs
The Polyglots

The Polyglots

Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!

Order Exam Copy
E-Mail this Page Print this Page
Add This - The Polyglots

Written by William GerhardieAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by William Gerhardie

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 336 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House
  • On Sale: January 29, 2013
  • Price: $17.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-61219-188-1 (1-61219-188-6)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

The Anglo-Russian author William Gerhardie was hailed by writers including Graham Greene, Edith Wharton, Evelyn Waugh and others as a “genius,” and this, his long-out-of-print second novel, is generally acclaimed as his comic masterpiece–not to mention “the most influential English novel of the twentieth century,” according to William Boyd.

It tells the story of an eccentric Belgian family living in the Far East during the turbulent years just after the First World War, which displaced them, and the Russian Revolution, which impoverished them.

Recounted by a conceited young English cousin who visits during a military mission, the story is filled with a host of fascinatingly idiosyncratic characters–depressives, obsessives, sex maniacs, and hypochondriacs–often forced to choose between absurdity and tragedy. Yet Gerhardie depicts them as both charming and poignant, as they each struggle for love and safety in tumultuous times . . . and the protagonist finds his conceit shredded as he falls head over heels in love with one of them.

Gerhardie’s portraits of Europeans in exile, attempting to escape from the era’s upheavals, draws on his own experiences as an officer in the British Mission. He has summoned up a world adrift, where war and revolution have broken up the old order, but nothing has come to replace it. And he does it with unforgettable humor and a sharp eye for the absurd.

Hilarious, poignant, panoramic in scope, The Polyglots redeems, from the Babel of the interwar period, a stirring vision of love and human sympathy.

“To my generation Gerhardie was the most important new novelist to appear in our young life.” - Graham Greene

“I have talent, but he has genius.” - Evelyn Waugh

“One of the funniest writers of the century.” - Philip Toynbee

“A comic writer of genius...but his art is profoundly serious: underneath the shamelessness and farce, his themes are the great ones, love grief and death, of intimations of joy and our imprisonment in the world of flesh and time.” - The Sunday Times