Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Symmetry Teacher

The Symmetry Teacher, by Andrei Bitov

I'd been looking forward to this book for some time, but I wanted to save it for December for Fanda's reading challenge.  I just barely finished this in 2015, so it counts, but I failed the challenge anyway. 

Bitov's novel is supposedly his foggy recollection of a book of stories written in a language he didn't really understand too well at the time, but which he translated into a notebook that he then lost.  Here, he recreates the stories, giving them new titles.  The original book was called The Teacher of Symmetry, and the author is forgotten (or may have been one A. Tired-Boffin).  This set-up is what hooked me; I can't resist that kind of thing.

The protagonist is Urbino Vanoski, who might be dead.  The chapters don't necessarily connect up, though sometimes they do.  It's all very surreal and chaotic, and the point is unclear, but the journey is enjoyable.  I'll read it again sometime, and I plan to read Bitov's earlier novel, Pushkin House.

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