Beatrice and Virgil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Beatrice and Virgil
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel.JPG
Author Yann Martel
Country Canada
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf Canada
Publication date
April 6, 2010
Pages 224
ISBN 0-307-39877-3 (first edition, hardcover)
Preceded by Life of Pi
Followed by The High Mountains of Portugal

Beatrice and Virgil is Canadian writer Yann Martel's third novel. First published in April 2010, it contains an allegorical tale about representations of the Holocaust. It tells the story of Henry, a novelist, who receives the manuscript of a play in a letter from a reader. Intrigued, Henry traces the letter to a taxidermist, who introduces him to the play's protagonists, two taxidermy animals—Beatrice, a donkey, and Virgil, a monkey.[1]

The Globe and Mail reported that Martel received a $2 million advance from Random House for U.S. rights alone, and that the total advance for worldwide rights was around $3 million, probably the highest ever advance for a single Canadian novel.[1] Martel's earlier novel, Life of Pi, won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and sold seven million copies worldwide.[2]

References to other works[edit]

Early on in the story, the protagonist, an author, (some say that the protagonist is a reflection of Yann himself) makes reference to Primo Levi's If This Is a Man; Art Spiegelman's Maus; David Grossman's See Under: Love; Martin Amis's Time's Arrow; George Orwell's Animal Farm; Albert Camus's The Plague; and Pablo Picasso's Guernica.

Extracts are quoted from Flaubert's "The Legend of Saint Julian Hospitator" which is discussed at length. Later in the novel, Jacques the Fatalist by Diderot is later discussed along with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

The title is an allusion to two of the main characters in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.


  1. ^ a b Barber, John. Martel's post-modern Holocaust allegory fetches $3-million advance, The Globe and Mail, April 6, 2010.
  2. ^ Flood, Alison. Yann Martel takes break from lobbying PM to promote new novel, The Guardian, March 1, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Martel, Yann. Beatrice and Virgil. Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2010.
  • Barber, John. Yann Martel: Lost and found, The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2010.