The Four Wise Men

ISBN: 0801857333
ISBN 13: 9780801857331
By: Michel Tournier Ralph Manheim

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About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts

Stephanie Chan

One of my all-time favorite books. Read it a while ago, so will have to re-read it and write a review.

Carlo Mayer



Awesome boook! Propably the best I've ever read.

Cassian Russell

Actually, I never read this -- I readGaspard, Melchior, et Baltasar. Great story, with wonderful philosophical meditations. I first read it in 2006, after I was assigned to read Le roi des aulnes. I have re-read it several times.

Patrick Racine

lu en français: Gaspard, melchior et Balthazar


Children deserve better than this.


Tournier vizează insistarea pe detaliul aparent insignifiant, pe raritatea ascunsă în cărţi ezoterice, pe remodelarea scenei golite de sens. De asemenea, Tournier vizează relativizarea conceptului, motiv pentru care surprinde personaje diforme, androgine, efeminate sau cu o identitate sexuală confuză, atinse de ceea ce oamenii încadraţi în cotidian numesc „nebunie”, care ies din logica comunului şi intră într-un spaţiu ce nu poate fi definibil prin „moralitate” în sensul pe care mizează experienţa celor mulţi.Romanul Gaspar, Melhior & Baltazar pleacă de la această miză. Povestea magilor de la Răsărit este poate una dintre cele mai cunoscute din lume. Cum ar putea fi ea respusă pentru a le mai trezi interesul cititorilor contemporani care, culmea!, sunt și bombardați cu mai multă literatură decât ar putea citi oricare dintre ei într-o viață. Soluția este oferită de o scriere apocrifă care atestă existența unui al patrulea mag, Taor, care nu a reușit însă să ajungă la timp. Cartea spune cu răbdare poveștile tuturor regilor magi, aducând în fața ochilor cititorului slăbiciunile și pasiunile fiecăruia dintre ei. (cronică:

Mikael Kuoppala

A surprisingly pleasant and comfortable read from the master of twisted and perverted tales. Exotic, exciting and as wise as its main characters. The ending of the novel is its most effective content.


A brilliant take on the story of the magi and its effect on the kings who came to worship and the individual journeys they took, drawing them to follow a comet and how it changed them.


About a month ago I bought Michel Tournier's "The Wind Spirit" because of the blurbs on its back cover from Guy Davenport and Roger Shattuck. Two days later, I'd finished it (in what felt like a single long gulp), and ordered Tournier's first four translated novels online. For whatever reason - maybe his interest in the poetic philosophy of Bachelard, maybe his piquant description, in TWS, of his novels transforming after years of writing, like blocks ice forming in gradually cooled water - he seemed worth the investment. He has been. Authors, or sometimes just books, always seem seasonal to me: so Wallace Stevens and Chaucer are Spring, Faulkner and Emerson are summer, and so on and so on. Sometimes it's more specific: Guy Davenport is an April walking around Paris smoking dried out cigars while trying to dodge the "manifestations". A.R. Ammons is the long muddy walks around my father's house in Vermont; stopping, embarrassed, and mad at myself for being embarrassed, to put the book down as trucks pass. "Eros the Bittersweet" is watching the Red Sox from my porch, sound off, owls. (I don't want to give the impression that I'm Robert fucking Lowell here, but for some reason the multitude of less-picturesque reading associations I have are not coming immediately to mind). Anyway, the point is that books are embedded for me (as I'd bet they are for everyone), in places, people, events, seasons, weather.So I think that, even though I haven't read everything he's written yet (not even just the stuff in English), Michel Tournier is always going to be May in Portland, Maine for me. Which seems perfect, since, above all other qualities, I'd mention his freshness as something that impressed me about him. Freshness and light: a little Calvino, a little Flaubert, maybe some Jules Verne and Thomas Mann mixed in like yeast, to give the big novels some heft. Like the best works of those authors, his manage to be cheerful and charming (charm: the eternally undervalued in literature...) without sacrificing any depth. And no, he does not fall prey to the sins of cutesiness on the one hand and over-jeweling on the other, which so much American literature seems to ape these days. Despite being obviously linked to his literary predecessors, he feels completely unique to me: a sort of humble (if still occasionally aggrandizing) Columbus. The Gift of the Magi is a warm, green, and very refreshing book. As in all of T's books, the last hundred pages or so are the best, and speak to the incredible intellectual and narrative architecture of his storytelling: coming to the end of the last magi's tale (Tournier describes four of them), we get the feeling that literally everything in this book has been set up to distill the maximum possible resonance and meaning from the books many tiny, almost missable climaxes. In an interview with a French magazine, Tournier said that his books aspire to the twin ideals of philosophy on the one hand and children's literature on the other - and if you think about the incredible distance between those two valences (usually, at least), you can get some idea of the amount of energy that your mind gets jumping around in this fiction. It's like candy that you eat and eat and yet is still somehow mysteriously good for you. Novelists everywhere take note: Tournier is someone to learn from. Not because his novels seem so effortless but because they manage to fill obviously crafted containers with a very mysterious substance.

Hannah Langhoff

This is an odd book, and hard to describe in a way that won't sound silly, but I found it beautiful and engaging.

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