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Tyll: Book summary and reviews of Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann X
Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2020
    352 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

From the internationally best-selling author of You Should Have Left, Measuring the World, and F, a return to historical fiction in this transfixing retelling of the German myth of Tyll Eulenspiegel--a story about the devastation of war and a beguiling artist's decision never to die.

Daniel Kehlmann masterfully weaves the fates of many historical figures into this enchanting and picturesque book of magical realism and adventure. It is the story of the 17th century vagabond performer and trickster Tyll Ulenspiegel that begins before he is enshrined in rumors and myths. We meet him as a scrawny boy growing up in a quiet village. When his father, a miller with an interest in alchemy and magic, is found out by the church, Tyll is forced to flee with the baker's daughter, Nele. They find safety and companionship with a traveling performer who teaches Tyll his trade. This begins a journey of discovery and performance for Tyll as he travels through a world devastated by the Thirty Year's War, and encountering along the way a young scholar, a hangman, the German poet Paul Fleming, a fraudulent Jesuit scholar, and the exiled royal couple Elizabeth and Frederick of Bohemia among many others--building his sardonic reputation all the while.

Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Located somewhere between German romanticism and modernism, superstition and science, history and high fantasy, this is a rapturous and adventuresome novel of ideas that, like Tyll's roaming sideshow, must be experienced to be believed." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Injecting gleeful dark humor into a setting that manages to feel both fantastically dystopian and historically grounded...[an] irresistible story." - Booklist (starred review)

"Kehlmann sometimes risks putting off readers with his intellectual gamesmanship. More often, he creates odd, darkly entertaining scenes...A richly inventive work of literature with a colorful cast of characters." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is a brilliant and unputdownable novel. Kehlmann is the true inheritor of the German fabulist tradition that stretches back to the Brothers Grimm and even further, and in the legendary prankster figure of Tyll Ulenspiegel he has found his perfect avatar." - Salman Rushdie

"A beautiful, engrossing and fascinatingly structured novel. Lucid, limpid, savage. Knowingly ahistorical. Romantically fictive. Cunningly layered. Tyll quietly intrudes on our present crisis of European identity. Have four centuries made us any wiser? This novel is a masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control." - Ian McEwan

"Kehlmann's imagination runs deep and wild. It travels with the currents of history, in its cycles of brutality and violence, it reaches into our own solitude and silence, summoning us, it soars far and high, and echoes with the power of myth." - Valeria Luiselli, author of Lost Children Archive

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Author Information

Daniel Kehlmann Author Biography

Photo: Michael Lionstar

Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 to the director Michael Kehlmann and the actress Dagmar Mettler. In 1981 he came to Vienna with his family, where he attended the Kalksburg College, a Jesuit school, and then studied philosophy and German studies at the University of Vienna. In 1997 he published his first novel Beerholms Presentation. He held poetic lectureships in Mainz, Wiesbaden and Göttingen and was awarded numerous prizes, including the Candide Prize, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Prize, the Doderer Prize, the Kleist Prize 2006 and most recently the WELT Literature Prize 2007 excellent.

Kehlmann's reviews and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Der Spiegel, Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ...

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