World Elsewhere: A Novel by Simon & Schuster

World Elsewhere: A Novel by Simon & Schuster

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Description of World Elsewhere: A Novel by Simon & Schuster

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Manufacturer Description

A moving novel about a young eighteenth-century Frenchman who is forced by circumstance to examine the world beyond his nobility delves into such classic themes as European exploration and civilization versus savagery as it describes his journey to Tahiti, where he falls in love with a native woman. A first novel. 20,000 first printing.

In his first novel, noted literary critic and Yale professor Peter Brooks forges torrid, bare-breasted fiction out of dry historical fact. Based on actual contemporary accounts, World Elsewhere follows an impoverished French aristocrat as he voyages to the South Seas as a member of the expedition that first discovers Tahiti. Fleeing a life of civilized debauchery as well as romantic scandal and financial ruin, Prince Charles of Nassau-Siegen seeks fame and honor aboard the vessel Boudeuse. What he finds instead is a kind of earthly paradise where food falls from the trees, property is meaningless, and beautiful, golden-skinned women offer themselves as freely as the air.

The Tahitians' native grace and spiritual ease calls into question all Charles's assumptions about culture, even as he develops a rapport with a lovely island maiden named Ité. Naturally, there's trouble in paradise: Charles and his shipmates find evidence of warfare, even human sacrifice, and a scuffle with the explorers leaves three natives dead. As the Boudeuse prepares to sail, Charles must decide whether to remain with his beloved Ité or return to the land of history, property, and time.

As one might expect from a writer with Brooks's critical pedigree, the philosophical issues at stake are never far from the surface. His ship's officers, for instance, have a dismaying tendency to talk in chunks of lit-crit exposition: "'Jean-Jacques [Rousseau] isn't writing encomiums to the state of nature. It's the first, uncorrupted society that interests him,' replied Commerson." Such passages aside, Brooks spins a colorful yarn that's more than mere theoretical window-dressing. Prince Charles may be living out the quintessential male fantasy, English-professor-style, but he is a flesh-and-blood hero whose foibles convince.

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